House leaders push for funding through mid-February

illustration dollar sign in vise 

The House Appropriations Committee released a new continuing resolution in the evening on Jan. 16 that would keep the government funded through Feb. 16. The bill includes a six-year extension of the currently expired Children's Health Insurance Program and provisions to allow the Department of Defense to spend at 2018 levels on a few high-priority programs related to missile defense.

If a stopgap bill isn't passed by midnight Jan. 19, the government's spending authority will expire, triggering a government shutdown.

"My hope is that House and Senate leadership and the White House can reach consensus quickly on a budget agreement, so that essential appropriations work on all 12 government funding bills can be completed. We are now four months into the 2018 fiscal year, and Congress must act as soon as possible to ensure that proper, year-long funding for our national defense and other critical federal programs is enacted," Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said in a statement.

Consensus has been in short supply in Washington, and it's possible the parties may not even be able to come together to back the short-term continuing resolution being brought forward in the House.

Democrats have been pushing for a deal to provide continued legal residency for about 700,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. as children. Legal protections under the Obama-era Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals program are due to expire completely in March.

Democratic leaders are signaling that they don't intend to support a stopgap spending bill that doesn't include DACA protections, and they are trying to get their rank and file to oppose the one-month funding extension. Fourteen Democrats voted yes on the current continuing resolution, which passed just days before Christmas. Democratic votes may be needed to pass the temporary funding bill.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the 36-member House Freedom Caucus, told reporters in the evening on Jan. 16 that "the votes are currently not there to pass it with just Republicans."

Talks on a limited fix for DACA recipients and other immigration policy changes were derailed over the weekend by news that President Donald Trump had lashed out at immigration from "shithole countries" in a White House meeting.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said that leadership talks on the immigration issue are ongoing, with a Jan. 17 meeting scheduled to include Cornyn along with his counterpart Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)

In Jan. 17 remarks on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that lawmakers' "responsibility is to continue those discussions -- not to jeopardize them by ginning up a manufactured crisis over an artificial deadline."

Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) the Democratic leader, didn't explicitly threaten to withhold votes from the funding bill without a deal on DACA, but he warned that a shutdown could be in the offing without a compromise. 

"What leads to problems in this place, what leads to a government shutdown? One side deciding everything and then saying to the other side, 'You must go along,'" Schumer said.

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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