Congress

Congress punts funding decisions to Dec. 21

U.S. Capitol (Photo by Orhan Cam / Shutterstock) 

The House and the Senate voted Dec. 6 to pass a continuing resolution that pushes a funding deadline for the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies until Dec. 21, averting a partial government shutdown.

Funding for DHS; the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, State, Transportation and Treasury; the Environmental Protection Agency; and others was set to expire on Dec. 7.

The move was necessary in part because legislative activity ground to a halt to observe a period of morning after the death of President George Herbert Walker Bush, but also because of an ongoing political fight over the funding over the proposed border wall.

President Donald Trump is insisting on $5 billion for the wall. Senate Democrats are going with a $1.6 billion figure they say is for fencing and border security. Many House Democrats want to forego any funding linked to the wall.

In a Dec. 6 press conference, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to become Speaker of the House in January, floated a plan to pass six funding bills "where the members of the Appropriations committees have come to terms," and pass a full-year continuing resolution covering DHS that would last until the end of fiscal year 2019. That deal would include wall funding at the lower FY2018 level – about $1.3 billion.

It's not clear how Republicans will respond, but several GOP senators quoted by Politico, CNN and other publications said the Pelosi deal was essentially a non-starter. Trump and lawmakers are slated to meet next week to begin hammering out a deal.

Trump has threatened at various points to shut down the government over wall funding, so if there's no deal in place by Dec. 21, it's possible that many agencies could spend the holiday season with a lapse in appropriations. Emergency operations and law enforcement are considered essential functions, so those would continue.

In addition to cabinet-level agency closures, the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration, which are funded by one of the pending appropriations bills, would largely close in the event of a shutdown.

Also pending in the appropriations package is a proposed 1.9 percent pay raise for civilian federal employees and more funding for the Technology Modernization Fund, which supports technology updates under the Modernizing Government Technology Act.

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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