NAICU Washington Update

No Shutdown . . . for Now

October 02, 2015

Congress averted a government shutdown by passing a continuing resolution (CR) September 30, which the president signed later that evening. The CR keeps the government running at current funding levels until December 11, 2015. For student aid programs, this does not change the amount of aid students have access to right now.

The prediction for a government shutdown changed when Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced his retirement last week. Boehner’s announcement enabled him to rally Democratic votes in support of passing a straight-forward CR, but it leaves the more conservative members of his caucus another opportunity to disrupt the budget process before the holidays. The CR passed the Senate by a vote of 78-20; while the House vote was 277-151.

Appropriations leaders in both chambers would rather see a regular funding process, but have also begun conversations about turning the December work into a two-year budget deal. In a statement, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Roger’s said:

“While I firmly believe this legislation is the best path forward at this time, it is also my strong opinion that Congress should do its job and enact actual, line-by-line Appropriations bills ahead of our September 30 deadline. Clearly, this is not an option at this time, so we must resort to a temporary measure like this CR. So it is to my great dismay that we have arrived at this point once again – requiring a temporary Band-Aid to buy us time to do our constitutionally mandated duty.”

Senate Appropriations Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) commented, “After passing the bill to fund the government, we can move on to a new budget deal that cancels sequester, raising the caps equally for defense and non-defense domestic spending. The budget deal will give us a framework for an Omnibus funding bill that invests in America, protecting national security, rebuilding our physical infrastructure, creating jobs for today and jobs for tomorrow, and meeting our compelling human needs. The Appropriations Committee needs 30 days to get the job done after a new budget deal is passed.”

House Republican leadership elections will take place on October 8. According to Congressional Quarterly, “Among those vying in elections for GOP leadership spots, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), a candidate for speaker, voted in favor of the CR, as did Steve Scalise (R-LA), a candidate for majority leader, and Patrick T. McHenry (R-NC), a candidate for whip. Opposed were Tom Price (R-GA), a candidate for majority leader, and Pete Sessions (R-TX), a candidate for whip.”

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