Capitol Correspondence - 11.04.18

Congress Resumes Work November 13 – Budget Fights Loom

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ANCOR is sharing this Politico Pro article so our members understand the context to which your members of Congress are returning to on November 13. The article highlights the need for grassroots advocacy on disability issues that are still on the Congressional docket – it will be important to make noise so issues such as renewing Money Follows the Person do not get forgotten amid potential broader budget battles. Please visit our Digital Advocacy Page to find advocacy resources and materials such as contact lists, templates and issue 1-pagers.

“Congress will be back in action just one month before another shutdown choke point, and the sentiment on both sides of the aisle is that the end-of-year funding fight will be messy under either electoral outcome: Democrats take the House or fall short of polling expectations, ceding power again to the GOP.

The spending package is Congress’ top year-end priority, posing the biggest questions about how each party will attempt to gain last-minute leverage in the waning days of the 115th Congress. Lawmakers must clear the remaining seven fiscal 2019 bills, including the one that funds the Department of Homeland Security, before Dec. 7 to avoid shuttering many federal agencies just before Christmas.

Congress already provided a whole year of funding in September for several other departments, including Defense, Education and Health and Human Services, lowering the stakes for a December shutdown.

Even so, House insiders predict a blue wave could provoke the GOP to jam Democrats with spending measures loaded up with red meat for conservatives, including Trump’s border wall, daring them to vote down bills that would prevent a shutdown, all on the cusp of their newfound majority.


On the flip side, Democrats could unleash their own legislative vengeance if they fail to win back the House. Another electoral shock to the Democratic Party is likely to stoke liberal backlash to GOP funding demands.

Republicans will still be in charge come Nov. 7, when Congress comes back in session, and they will still need votes from Senate Democrats to get a spending package to Trump’s desk. Even in the House, GOP leaders would likely be dependent on Democratic votes to pass spending bills, if enough of the chamber’s most conservative Republicans decide to take out their post-election resentment by voting “no” on legislation that would keep the government running.

Multiple GOP aides predict that a shellacking at the polls for House Republicans could juice the party’s appetite for December appropriations drama.

Unlike in September, a December shutdown wouldn’t affect Pentagon funding, since Congress has already passed a full year of appropriations for the Defense Department, as well as for key agencies like HHS.

Many of the departments still awaiting funding, from Homeland Security to the State Department, have latitude to keep employees on the job during a shutdown, which would mean a slightly less painful funding lapse, despite the negative political optics.

‘The talk in conservative circles is, ‘This is the perfect time for a shutdown. It’s not sending troops home without pay or pushing grandma off a cliff,’’ said one House conservative aide.”