Another shutdown looms ahead of holidays

NOTE: This story first appeared on

The federal workforce is facing a partial government shutdown if an appropriations bill or funding extension isn't passed by midnight on Dec. 22.

House leaders have scrapped a plan to extend government operations through mid-January while fully funding defense at 2018 levels, but it's not clear what will replace it.

Senate Democrats balked at the plan to fund defense at levels in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act while keeping civilian-side spending at 2017 levels. Republicans were reluctant to support an $81 billion disaster relief bill that was floated as part of a funding extension.

Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council at the White House said at a Dec. 20 event hosted by Axios that he expects a funding extension to pass, allowing Congress to leave town for the weekend.

Many large agencies including Defense, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Energy, Education, Labor and Housing and Urban Development haven't published updates to their shutdown plans since 2015.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Fox on Dec. 19 that a shutdown "is not going to happen."

In remarks on the Senate floor on Dec. 20, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) complained that the focus on the tax bill means "we now have precious little time left to keep the government open and solve a legion of pressing issues."

Democrats in the House and Senate are looking for reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program, continued legal status for immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, opioid crisis funding, an extension of the Choice Act allowing veterans to seek care in the community and more.

"But because of the particular importance of all of these issues, especially the Dreamers, we cannot do a short-term funding bill that picks and chooses what problems to solve and what not to solve. That will not be fair and will not pass. We have to do them all together, instead of in a piecemeal fashion," Schumer said, although he left room to allow for a deal on these issues to come together in January on the heels of an extension of the current continuing resolution, rather than be passed by Dec. 22.

House leaders are expected to roll out a new continuing resolution plan after meetings late in the day on Dec. 20, leaving just enough time for House and Senate votes before the expiration of the current funding bill.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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