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Capitol Correspondence - 07.30.18

Budget Issues Looms Large As Congress Seeks to Avoid Pre-Election Shutdown

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Congressional leaders are taking a multi-prong approach to avoiding having the federal government shutdown in the fall. A shutdown would occur if budgets are not allocated to fund the government, which runs out of funding on October 1, 2018.

The first approach is to negotiate with the president, as shared in a Bloomberg Government article:

“House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met with President Donald Trump at the White House Wednesday to discuss how to avoid a politically damaging government shutdown on Oct. 1, a month before elections that will determine control of Congress.


Trump over the past year has called for a “good” government shutdown to achieve up to $25 billion in border wall funding. He also has vowed never again to sign a 12-part omnibus spending bill like the $1.3 trillion law the White House and Congress negotiated earlier this year to fund the government through September.”

Additionally, Politico Pro reports that Senate Republican and Democratic leadership are negotiating on a novel compromise legislative approach. Specifically, the article states that:

“Senate leaders are closing in on a groundbreaking bipartisan strategy to fund the majority of government operations this summer, including the Pentagon, in a pointed bid to avoid a government shutdown.

Whether the plan makes it to the president’s desk would still depend upon House Speaker Paul Ryan and his GOP conference, who would have to accept a hike in domestic spending in exchange for the assurance that defense spending would continue without interruption.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have agreed to bind Congress’ two largest appropriations bills into a single package in coming weeks, which holds the potential to become law before an Oct. 1 spending deadline.


That bill would make up two-thirds of all discretionary funding, most of which goes toward the Pentagon. That would make the package difficult for President Donald Trump to veto, even though the domestic piece of it, which includes health and education programs, would vastly exceed his own budget request.


Longtime budget watchers don’t recall Congress deploying this defense-domestic strategy in the modern era.”

While the Senate crafts its proposal, the House is continuing its budget work on a separate track. According to Politico Pro: “The House Appropriations Committee today approved, 28-22, revised suballocations for its spending bills for fiscal year 2019, including a boost for DHS.


The revised report allocates discretionary spending: $23 billion for Agriculture, $62.5 billion for Commerce-Justice-Science, $674.5 billion for Defense, $45 billion for Energy-Water, $23.5 billion for Financial Services and General Government, $58 billion for Homeland Security, $35 billion for Interior-Environment, $179 billion for Labor-HHS-Education, $5 billion for the Legislative Branch, $98 billion for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, $54 billion for State and Foreign Operations and $72 billion for Transportation-HUD.”

The graphic below, provided by Bloomberg Government, shows the breakdown of the Labor-HHS-Education bill and explains differences between the House and Senate.