Just the Facts

Five Facts on Congressional Efforts to Avoid a Government Shutdown

By No Labels
September 14, 2018 | Blog

Every year, Congress needs to pass a total of 12 spending bills in order to fund 100% of the government. Negotiations surrounding these bills are often heated and have led to numerous government shutdowns over the years as lawmakers have been unable to come to agreement.  This year, Congress has until September 30 to pass these 12 bills and avoid a shutdown. While members have been able to work in a bipartisan fashion to pass the first cluster of bills, much work remains to be done before the government is fully funded. Here are five facts on congressional efforts to avoid a shutdown.

This week lawmakers announced a series of bipartisan agreements to pass a series of appropriations bills and avoid a shutdown

On Monday, negotiators from the House and the Senate announced they had come to an agreement regarding three spending bills that authorize approximately $147 billion in federal funding. The bills will fund the Energy Department, Veterans Affairs, and the legislative branch of government.  This agreement was followed by a Thursday announcement stating that negotiators had reached a deal on a short-term spending bill that would fund the rest of the government through December 7.

Later in the week, Congress passed an expansive government funding bill with bipartisan support

Lawmakers followed through on their deal this week as the Senate passed the $147 billion “minibus” spending bill with a vote of 92-5 on Wednesday. The House of Representatives followed suit the next day, passing the bill 377-20. The president has until the September 30 deadline to sign the bill and avoid a shutdown.

President Trump has threatened to veto the spending bills, saying he would consider using a government shutdown as leverage to secure funding for some of his key initiatives, such as a border wall

In recent weeks President Trump has indicated he would be willing to shut down the government over border security.  In an interview with Fox News the president stated, “If it was up to me, I’d shut down [the] government over border security.”  However, with midterms only two months away, President Trump went on to say, “I don’t want to do anything to hurt us [Republicans] or potentially hurt us.”  Following the passage of the appropriations bill on Thursday White House press secretary Sarah Sanders provided reassurances for lawmakers, stating that Trump “looks forward to signing this legislation.”

Republican leaders in Congress are reportedly very concerned about the possibility of the president causing a shutdown

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have both heavily lobbied President Trump against a government shutdown.  It is reported that both men recently attended a meeting with the president at the White House where they personally urged the Trump to sign the appropriations bills they put on his desk, touting advancements that have been made on the U.S.-Mexico border wall.  Two months away from the midterm elections, in which Republicans are expected to lose seats in the House, the stakes are even higher.  As Speaker Ryan recently stated, a shutdown is “not in anyone’s interest, and [President Trump] knows that.”

There is still much more work to be done before the government is fully funded

While the $147 billion bill passed this week was a promising start, Congress still has two more clusters of bills that it must pass in order for the government to be fully funded.  Currently, members expect to pass the second package of bills, which will fund the Department of Defense, Health and Human Services, Education and other agencies, later this month along with a short-term spending patch, which will allow members to debate the third cluster of bills after the midterms.  This third cluster of bills will cover some of the more controversial issues, such as funding for the border wall, and will allow members to avoid controversial decisions before the midterms.

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