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Another Month, Another Short-Term Spending Bill For Congress

Once again, Congress is less than a week away from allowing the federal government to run out of money.  Again, all signs are pointing towards a scramble by Republican leadership in the House and Senate to round up the votes they need to keep the lights on at the Capitol with another continuing resolution (CR). If this feels like Groundhog’s Day to you, it might be because it is Groundhog’s day today, or because this could be the fifth time in five months that Congress has kicked the can down the road with a short-term spending bill instead of completing a budget funding bill for the Fiscal Year 2018.

Last time around, the threat of a government shutdown came in large part from Senate Democrats who, at the time, were refusing to sign off on a CR without protections for the 700,000 undocumented immigrants who had come to America the States as children, known as Dreamers. However, with six days remaining until the government runs out of funding, it is House Republicans who look like the party most likely to force the next shutdown.

Many members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and a fair number of defense hawks seem to be toying with the idea of voting against the 6-week CR that is being offered by Congressional Republican leadership. Upset over the lack of long-term financial stability for the military and what some members see as a failure for House Republican leadership to embrace a hardline, conservative immigration plan put forward by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), a sizable number of House Republicans are threatening to vote against the CR, which could come to the floor as early as Tuesday. Some Republicans on the House Armed Service Committee are lobbying for the party’s leadership to include a full year of defense spending and essentially daring Democrats to cast a no vote that could be twisted as “anti-military”.

For their part, most House Democrats are expected to continue to oppose further short-term spending bills without concurrent action to protect Dreamers and an agreement on raising budgetary spending caps the preserve parity between defense and non-defense funding. However, in an effort to sweeten the pot for some red-state Democrats who may be on the fence about voting no on a CR so shortly after a government shutdown, it is thought that a funding extension for Community Health Centers—which could run out of federal funding by March—could be attached to the CR. Similarly, there is a possibility that disaster aid for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Texas, Florida, and California could be attached to the upcoming CR, but no details have been released thus far.

Posted By: AIDS United, Policy Department - Friday, February 02, 2018

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