Congress is looking to delay by one week a potential government shutdown, saying it needs more time to iron out the details of a longer-term spending deal.
Absent congressional action, agencies would run out of funding and be forced to shutter their operations starting Saturday. Republicans in Congress have proposed pushing that deadline to May 5 through a week-long continuing resolution. Federal agencies have been operating under a CR for all of fiscal 2017.
“This continuing resolution will continue to keep the government open and operating as normal for the next several days, in order to finalize legislation to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year,” said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon. It is time that this essential work is completed so that critical programs and activities – including national defense – are properly and adequately funded for the year.”
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The CR would maintain current spending levels and assumes a $1.07 trillion total expenditure for the fiscal year. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said congressional negotiators have made “substantial progress” on an omnibus bill to fund agencies through the Sept. 30 end of fiscal 2017, and encouraged his colleagues to approve the stopgap measure.
“Let’s pass this new continuing resolution, and make good use of this extra time to enact overdue legislation to provide for national defense and meet our country’s needs,” Cochran said.
Odds of a shutdown -- for which the Trump administration has already begun to prepare -- appeared to dip dramatically this week as the White House backed off its demand that any spending measure include funding for the president’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall and vowed to continue funding subsidies for insurance companies to provide coverage to low-income Americans. Congressional leaders had hoped to avoid another CR, a desire Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reiterated this week. But ultimately lawmakers said they did not have enough time to finalize their deal.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said her party’s main concerns -- the wall and the health care subsidies -- have been addressed, but she still has some reservations.
“More progress needs to be made on some of our priorities, and we continue to be concerned about poison pill riders that are still in this legislation,” Pelosi said. “Our appropriators are working in good faith toward a bipartisan proposal to keep government open.”
The House could vote on the CR as soon as Thursday, sending the measure over to the Senate with just one day to act.