Connolly doubts full funding deal is possible by Feb. 8

Rep. Gerald Connolly 

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) is no fan of shutdowns, but he sees big obstacles to a funding deal by Feb. 8.

President Donald Trump signed a three-week funding bill into law in the evening on Jan. 22, bringing to an end a 69-hour government shutdown.

The measure funds the government through Feb. 8, giving Congress some breathing space to come to a deal on an overall spending plan, funding caps for defense and non-defense spending, disaster funding, opioid funding, action on an Obama-era immigration policy that gave legal protection to individuals who arrived as young children and more.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), whose northern Virginia district includes large numbers of federal employees and government contractors, was one of just 45 Democrats in the House to support the short-term continuing resolution.

"My district is particularly sensitive to a government shutdown," Connolly told FCW. "All of us in northern Virginia feel shutdowns should be avoided." He noted that "Democrats have limited leverage," without control of either chamber of the legislature or the White House. "The burden on keeping the government funded is a Republican burden," he said.

The calendar is working against a legislative solution. In the House, both Democrats and Republicans have retreats scheduled in the coming weeks, and there are only about seven working days left for lawmakers to make and pass a deal. The Senate has a few more working days on its calendar, but moves at a more glacial pace unless there is unanimous consent among members.

Connolly said a complete deal by Feb. 8 is unlikely.

"I wish I could tell you I'm optimistic, but I don't see how that's possible, given how little time we're in session," he said.

That said, Connolly expects opposition from all sides to a fifth continuing resolution to keep the government open after Feb. 8.

"I think that is not a very desirable option," Connolly said. "I think you're going to find a lot of people rebelling over that." That dynamic puts a second 2018 shutdown in play.

Connolly, however, is not as downbeat about the weekend deal to end the shutdown as some in his party.

"McConnell moved. This gets missed," Connolly said. "He went from absolute defiance Friday night to a much more conciliatory stance over the weekend."

"Did we get everything? We're in the minority," he said. "We don't control that. We don't have the leverage." Connolly added he was happy to get the issue of authorization of the Children's Health Insurance Plan passed.

Connolly is also pushing for bills to take care of federal employee pay, military pay and other government obligations in the event of a future lapse in appropriations. He's the lead sponsor of the Families of Fallen Servicemembers First Act, which would guarantee payment of survivor benefits to survivors of deceased military members. That bill so far has attracted 150 co-sponsors.

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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