Short-term funding measure to prevent shutdown expected to pass

Senior lawmakers from both parties on Sunday said they believe a short-term stopgap funding bill to keep the government running will be approved this week, but they did not see an end game in sight for developing a comprehensive plan to bring down the nation's debt.

The House is expected to approve a continuing resolution this week that would keep the government funded until April 8, with the Senate expected to follow suit. Negotiations will then continue on another short-term spending bill.

But lawmakers said a much larger challenge looms to address the nation's bleak financial outlook, as they must soon decide whether to raise the nation's debt limit.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., vowed Sunday that Senate Republicans will not vote to raise the debt limit without a "credible" plan to address the country's $14 trillion debt.

"Democrats can raise it themselves if they choose to and try to do nothing whatsoever about the problem," McConnell said on Fox News Sunday. "I think to get any of the 47 Republicans, you've got to do something... that the markets believe is credible, that the American people believe is credible, that foreign countries believe is credible, in addition to simply raising the debt ceiling."

The challenge of coming up with a bipartisan plan to bring down the debt has fallen to a group led by Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Mark Warner, D-Va.

"If we don't get our arms around it now, then we're going to become a second-tier nation, and we can't allow that to happen," Chambliss said on Fox.

The group is considering multiple options, including cutting entitlements and recommending that the retirement age for Social Security be raised, said Warner, who also spoke on the program.

"You've got to put everything out," Warner said. "We didn't get into this situation overnight. We're not going to dig out overnight."

"Folks under 35 might see a slight bump in their age increase, but frankly, a lot of folks under 35 don't think there's even going to be Social Security if we don't do something," he said. He added the goal is to make Social Security stable for decades to come.

Chambliss said the proposal the group is developing aims to reduce the effective tax rate across the board by making changes to the tax code. He did not specify what those changes entail.

But he said a key issue for the group is ensuring that Congress does not turn around and spend revenue raised or saved by the plan.

"Frankly, one of the major issues that we are dialoguing about in our group now is what do we do with those revenues," Chambliss said. "We need to make sure that we commit the most significant part of those revenues to tax reduction -- tax rate reduction. Get our corporate rate down to where we're competitive in the world marketplace. Get our individual rates down to where people actually do pay less in taxes."

He said a portion of the revenue would then be used to pay down the nation's debt.

Exactly when the group will roll out a final plan is unclear. "We want to make sure we get it right more than set an arbitrary timeline," Warner said.

He said he would be worried about trying to tie the group's plan to the upcoming vote on raising the debt ceiling. But he added that waiting until next year would be problematic because it's an election year.

"We may not have that long of time before the financial markets say we're going to either no longer want to buy American debt or charge such a higher interest rate on it that it would have a dramatic negative on the economy," Warner said.

In the interim, there has been some criticism that President Obama has not been involved enough in budget negotiations. Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., disputed such claims in an interview on CNN's State of the Union.

"I think there's a perception and a frustration among members of Congress that things aren't moving to a conclusion. The president is working behind the scenes," Durbin said.

"I've met with him with leadership," Durbin added. "I know he is reaching out to try to find some accommodation here. He is trying to reach a point where we acknowledge the obvious. We have a serious deficit problem, borrowing 40 cents for every dollar we spend."

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, in turn, rebutted that. The Arizona Republican said, "He may have been talking to Senator Durbin and other Democrats, but he has not been talking to Republicans."

Notably, McConnell said Senate Republicans will not filibuster or block unrelated spending bills from coming to the Senate floor. Instead, he said Republicans would seek to add amendments to those bills cutting funding.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.