Just the Facts

Five Facts on a Government Shutdown

By Emma Petasis
September 28, 2018 | Blog

For the first time in decades Congress has passed numerous spending bills that allocate federal spending before the deadline of September 30.  Here are five facts on Congressional spending:

On Wednesday the House passed an $854 billion spending bill, averting a government shutdown in October

The bill will fully fund the departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education for the 2019 fiscal year.  It was passed with broad bipartisan support in the House with a vote of 361-61.  Last week the Senate passed an identical bill by a vote of 93-7.  In addition, the bill included a continuing resolution that will extend the current funding levels for any unfunded agencies for the first two months of the new fiscal year.  This will allow members of Congress to debate some of the most controversial topics, such as border wall funding, after the midterm elections.

President Trump has publicly stated that he will sign the funding bill

On Wednesday President Trump confirmed that he would sign the bill when it arrived at his desk, stating “We’re going to keep the government open.” This affirmation ended weeks of speculation that the president could use his veto power as leverage to secure funding for some of his key initiatives, such as a border wall.  However, President Trump had faced strong pushback from Republican leadership in Congress, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan making clear they would not support a government shutdown.

In mid-September lawmakers passed the first round of appropriations bills for 2019

The first round of spending bills authorized approximately $147 billion in federal funding. The bills will fund the Energy Department, Veterans Affairs, and the legislative branch of government.  The “minibus” spending bill was passed with broad bipartisan support, making it through the Senate with a vote of 92-5 before passing the House by a margin of 377-20.

Every year, Congress needs to pass a total of 12 spending bills in order to fund 100% of the government

One of Congress’s main functions is to pass spending bills that appropriate billions of dollars  to all aspects of the government. Negotiations surrounding these bills are often heated and have led to numerous government shutdowns in recent years as lawmakers have been unable to come to agreement.  Congress has a deadline of September 30 to pass these 12 bills and avoid a government shutdown.

The passage of the spending bill on Wednesday marks the first time in 22 years that such a large portion of the federal government has been funded on time

Congress has faced significant criticism over the years for its inability to pass spending bills on time and No Labels had previously proposed the No Budget, No Pay proposal to cut off the pay of members of Congress if budget and spending bills are submitted late. There have been numerous government shutdowns over the past several years, including one that lasted 16 days in 2013 and a three-day shutdown in January of 2018.  However, by passing spending bills on time this year, Congress has provided much needed funding to important departments such as the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services for the first time in more than two decades.

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