Budget

Congress passes 3-week funding bill

Shutterstock image. 

With the clock running out on agencies' current appropriations, Congress passed a bill to keep the government open over the holidays.

The bill passed the House 231 to 188 in the late afternoon on Dec. 21, with a handful of Democrats supporting the measure, in defiance of a Dec. 20 letter from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urging a no vote.

The Senate followed suit later in the evening, voting 66-32 to approve the measure.

The bill keeps the government funded at fiscal year 2017 levels through Jan. 19. It also extends the Children's Health Insurance Program, which lapsed at the end of the last fiscal year, through March 31, 2018, and extends the authorities of spy agencies to collect and review intercepts of communications of Americans under the Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act through Jan. 19. Those 702 authorities were set to sunset under the law on Dec. 31.

Additionally, the bill appropriates $4.7 billion to the Pentagon for emergency needs, including missile defense.

Funding for government operations was set to run out Dec. 22 at midnight.

"The resolution will also allow time for Republican and Democratic Leaders to come to a longer-term budget agreement on top-line government funding levels for the 2018 fiscal year," House Appropriations chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said in a statement. "Once this agreement is reached, the Appropriations Committee will continue negotiations with the Senate in order to enact all 12 regular Appropriations bills to ensure essential funding for federal programs and services, including national defense. It is critical that Congress complete this Constitutionally-mandated budgetary work as quickly as possible."

Pelosi complained that the bill ignored key priorities, including resolving the question of the legal status of immigrants currently covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy – the so-called Dreamers.

"Instead of addressing the urgent, bipartisan priorities of the American people, Republicans squandered this week on tax breaks for corporate America and the wealthiest," Pelosi said in a statement.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law. Earlier in the day on Dec. 21, Trump tweeted his support for the bill.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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