After a weekend government shutdown a few weeks ago, Congress once again kicked the can down the road with a continuing resolution (CR) spending bill to keep the government open until February 8.
So have they made any progrrss since then? What do you think.
The Hill reports, This week: Congress races to prevent another shutdown:
The vote comes roughly three weeks after the government closed for three days amid a fight over the fate of an Obama-era immigration program.
But GOP leadership appears confident Democrats won’t risk another shutdown, after they folded last month on their demand to link immigration policy to a must-pass bill.
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House Democrats are scheduled to depart for Cambridge, Md., for their retreat on Wednesday, which may help ease the skids for passing another temporary stopgap measure to keep the government open in time.
A vote in the House is expected on Tuesday, per a Republican aide.
Two sources familiar with the situation told The Hill that the continuing resolution (CR) would fund the government through March 23, though the decision hasn’t been finalized.
Asked about a six-week CR, an aide for the Senate Appropriations Committee said they are “on board, with a primary interest in accepting any date that makes the most sense in context of getting a deal and final resolution of the [fiscal year] 2018 appropriations.”
Lawmakers are hoping a longer CR will allow them to clinch a budget deal, which has been hamstrung by the immigration fight and demands of equal increases in defense and nondefense spending, as well as write a longer “omnibus” bill that could take weeks.
Democrats secured a pledge from McConnell upon ending the three-day shutdown to take up immigration legislation after Feb. 8. The GOP leader said late last week that he is “perfectly happy provided the government is still open on Feb. 8 to go to the subject and to treat it in a fair way.”
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There are early signs of trouble in the House, where GOP leadership could need to pass a fifth stopgap bill since September with GOP-only votes. Defense and fiscal hawks have become increasingly frustrated about supporting the stopgap measures without a long-term budget deal in sight.
And Freedom Caucus members appear to be itching for a fight and might make demands about immigration or military spending in exchange for their votes.
“I don’t see the probability of the Freedom Caucus supporting a fifth CR without substantial changes by Feb. 8,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the Freedom Caucus leader, told reporters at the GOP retreat.
GOP leaders are eyeing a six-week funding bill that would keep the government’s lights on until March 23. The measure could include sweeteners like funding for community health centers.
But even though leaders dismissed concerns that the government could close down again when current funding runs dry on Thursday, it’s still unclear whether frustrated defense hawks will go along with the plan to pass a funding bill without a boost for the military.
“We’ve got to get a deal on [budget] caps,” said Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.). “We have too many people, too many Republicans who are adamant that we got to come up with a defense number that takes into consideration the requirements that we need to meet for national security.”
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Democrats are insisting that Congress pass an immigration bill before they agree to a budget caps deal, which is needed to write a massive omnibus-spending bill for the rest of the fiscal year.
But with Congress still nowhere closer to a deal on DACA or the budget caps, lawmakers are staring down the passage of another temporary funding patch — the fifth since September.
The House is expected to vote on a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government on Tuesday because of a House Democratic retreat planned for Wednesday.
In a bid to attract more Democratic support for the CR, leadership is considering attaching two years of funding for health centers, which would amount to several billions of dollars, according to House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.).
However, it’s unclear how much support the stopgap funding bill will have from the House GOP conference, where defense hawks and conservatives have grown increasingly frustrated with passing CRs. The cycle has left all government programs stuck at fiscal 2017 levels.
Defense Secretary James Mattis complained to lawmakers at the GOP retreat that stopgap funding bills hamstring U.S. military operations, which could provide further ammunition for conservatives looking to oppose the next CR.
“I cannot maintain the U.S. military on CRs,” Mattis said, according to sources in the closed-door meeting.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus has already fired off a warning shot to leadership that they may not support the next funding bill unless they get concessions from leadership on defense and immigration issues.
The band of roughly 30 conservative hard-liners have some leverage in the spending talks, since House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been refusing to supply the Democratic votes for a CR in the House without a DACA deal in place.
“I don’t see the probability of the Freedom Caucus supporting a fifth CR without substantial changes by Feb. 8, unless we see dramatic changes,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told reporters at the retreat.
The Freedom Caucus and defense hawks have been pushing hard for leadership to include a full year of defense funding in the next short-term spending patch — an idea that has gone nowhere in the past, partly because it’s been considered dead-on-arrival in the Senate.
But Republicans think Senate Democrats, especially those up for reelection in red states that Trump won, may be more willing to swallow a CR package that only increases defense spending, since blocking it could result in another shutdown.
A group of moderate Senate Democrats, who came together to help reopen the government last month, may go along with the next CR as long as there are no poison pills.
They received assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that he would put immigration and border security legislation on the floor if a DACA deal is not reached by Feb. 8, which could make them more comfortable with another CR.
But the stopgap spending bill that Congress will likely consider this week would extend government funding past the March 5 deadline that Trump gave to fix DACA. That means Democrats would be giving up some of their leverage in the immigration fight by kicking the spending debate into late March, though they could still hold up a deal on budget caps in exchange for a DACA deal.
Still, GOP leaders largely expressed confidence last week that there would not be another shutdown.