Congress Tries to Avoid a Government Shutdown As Oct. 1 Nears

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled a vote to proceed on a stopgap spending bill for Monday evening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled a vote to proceed on a stopgap spending bill for Monday evening, Susan Walsh/AP

Lawmakers are working behind the scenes to cobble together a continuing resolution in the next two weeks to keep the government open past Oct. 1.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has scheduled for Monday evening a vote to proceed on a short-term continuing resolution that funds the government through Dec. 9, according to a tweet from CQ Roll reporter Jennifer Shutt. The hope is that the Senate will finish up work on the stopgap spending measure by the middle of next week, and send it over to the House for a vote later next week. H.R. 5325, the legislative branch spending bill, is serving as the legislative vehicle for the short-term CR.

Senators tried to get the measure squared away this week, but partisan battles over various issues cropped up. Earlier this week, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada told reporters that “lots of problems” remained with a Republican stopgap spending proposal, according to The Hill.  Republicans do not want any of the money allotted to fight the Zika virus in Puerto Rico to go toward Planned Parenthood clinics, and there are other fights over disaster aid to Louisiana and Internet oversight. It’s also possible that the House will move forward on its own next week without waiting for the Senate to send something over.

Fiscal 2017 starts in two weeks, and Congress hasn’t finished work on any of the 12 spending bills funding federal agencies. The 11th-hour appropriations scramble has become the norm in Washington in recent years, resulting in a government shutdown in 2013. The 2016 presidential election hasn’t made the appropriations process any less complicated. The constant CRs have made it difficult for federal employees and contractors to make stable, long-term funding decisions on programs and contracts.  

Still, many observers believe that Congress will manage to pass a relatively clean CR before the deadline and avoid a government shutdown this time around. 

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