After the Sequester, Government Shutdown Looms

The federal government last shut down in the mid-1990s, affecting federal parks and monument staff. The federal government last shut down in the mid-1990s, affecting federal parks and monument staff. AP file photo

Congressional leaders are already shifting their focus to the next spending battle after the automatic budget sequester takes effect on Friday -- how to keep the government running -- but the Democratic strategy on this fight is far from set.

House Republicans are gearing up for a bill spearheaded by Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., which would keep the government funded for the rest of the fiscal year at the post-sequester spending levels of $974 billion. That bill is expected to be brought to the House floor as soon as next week.

Meanwhile, Senate Democratic leaders are waiting to see what the House can pass and how the votes break down before devising their plans. Although Senate Democratic leaders are engaged in conversations with their House Republican counterparts about the expiring continuing resolution to fund the government, they have not communicated a strategy for handling the CR to the Democratic caucus.

“The discussion has definitely started to shift towards how the CR is going to be dealt with, and if the House sends something over, what can we expect it might look like and what we want to do about it,” said a Democratic Senate aide, who was not authorized to discuss the dynamics on the record. “I don’t think Democrats know what we are going to do with that. Are we just going to raise the levels and put in more details on the discretionary side or what?”

“We have not heard much of a coherent strategy from our leadership,” the aide said.

Democrats are still focused on trying to gain leverage through the sequester, in hopes that those cuts are perceived to be so damaging that voters react, triggering needle-pushing opposition to them. Such momentum would be necessary to bolster Democrats’ hand for returning spending levels to pre-sequester levels, said Hill aides and budget wonks following the issue.

“We feel pretty confident about our messaging looking past the sequester and towards the CR -- that if Republicans are coming in at this lower number, that we will have some kind of a better story to tell about how we are still working to replace sequestration and we will be able to fund defense and nondefense at higher levels,” said another Democratic Senate aide.

But Republicans see the sequence of these spending battles in their favor. With sequestration hitting first, a new, lower fiscal baseline is set that will help the GOP resist any spending increases that the other side might propose. “Republicans don’t get to run everything, but what they can do is stop increases,” said Grover Norquist, president of the influential Americans for Tax Reform.

The current CR expires on March 27. If Congress does not act before then, the federal government faces the threat of a shutdown that could be politically devastating for whichever political party is held to blame.

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

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

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

    Download

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