Capitol Correspondence - 09.24.18

Senate Seeks to Avoid Shutdown with Short-term and Labor-HHS Funding Combo Bill

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Negotiations between the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have averted a shutdown and will also result in the federal budget being 90 percent funded, pending the President signing the compromise funding bill outlined below. With most of domestic and military funding accounted for through the Labor-HHS bill, the remaining elements left for the House and Senate to negotiate are Agriculture, Interior, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These will be put together as a separate bundle.

According to the Washington Post:

“The Senate on [September 18, 2018] passed a short-term spending bill that would keep the government running through Dec. 7, aiming to avert a government shutdown and put off a fight over funding for President Trump’s border wall until after the midterm elections.

The short-term bill came attached to a massive budget package containing full-year 2019 funding for the Pentagon as well as for the Labor, Education and Health and Human Services departments. GOP leaders designed the package to combine key Republican and Democratic priorities in an attempt to garner overwhelming bipartisan support. The package also aims to satisfy Trump’s desire for more military spending.

The 93-to-7 vote came less than two weeks ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline when government funding will expire unless Congress and Trump intervene.”

Politico Pro examined the broader context in which the Senate vote occurred:

  • “While the House is expected to vote [this] week to send the measure to President Donald Trump, conservatives in that chamber have been urging Republican leaders to decouple the military spending bill from the measure that funds nondefense programs, to retain leverage in ongoing spending negotiations with Democrats.”
  • “President Donald Trump complained Thursday morning about the “ridiculous spending bill” making its way through Congress, demanding answers on funding for his long-promised border wall, but stopping short of calling for a government shutdown before this fall’s midterm elections.”
  • “The president has complained loudly and regularly throughout his first two years in office about the government appropriation process, specifically about a lack of funding for border security measures, including a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He has urged Congress to reinstate a line-item veto that would allow him to reject specific portions of a measure without vetoing a piece of legislation entirely. […] The president has also urged the Senate to do away with its legislative filibuster rule, a step Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said unequivocally that he will not take.”
  • “During his Friday visit to a VA medical center in Las Vegas, the president took the final action to enact fiscal 2019 legislation, H.R. 5895 (115), that would fund the departments of Veterans Affairs and Energy, as well as military construction, water projects and the Legislative Branch at updated levels starting Oct. 1.” [ANCOR NOTE: this was the funding bill the Senate and House passed before the Labor-HHS bill.]