NAICU Washington Update

Deadline Looms to Keep the Government Open

December 20, 2017

As most of the country winds down for the holidays, Congress faces uncertainty about whether it can reach an agreement on a new funding measure to keep the government running.  If an agreement can’t be reached, Congress faces shutting down the federal government when the current funding bill expires at midnight on Friday, December 22.

At the time of the publication of this Washington Update edition, the strategy for funding votes is likely to include the following steps:
  • The House would vote on Thursday, December 21, on temporary funding for the government until January 19, 2018; and would vote separately on an emergency spending package for states needing hurricane and wildfire disaster relief. 
  • Upon receipt, the Senate would revise the House version by adding an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); a PAYGO fix to avoid triggering automatic entitlement spending cuts to pay for the cost of the tax bill; legislation to stabilize the individual health insurance market; and, possibly, the emergency disaster aid package.  These changes in the Senate would help garner at least the Democratic votes needed to reach the 60 vote threshold required for passage.
  • The Senate would send this revised version back to the House. 
  • The House would need to pass the revised Senate version without amendment by midnight Friday, December 22, to avoid a government shutdown. House leadership will need to balance conservative opposition to the Senate amendments with the need for the Senate to have Democratic votes to pass a bill. Passage of this version in the House is uncertain at this point.
While House leadership continues to say there will not be a shutdown, votes have not been counted yet, and Members of Congress have been told to stay in Washington until a final outcome is decided.  While it is hard to imagine Congress shutting down such essential services as the FAA on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, anything is possible in this political climate.

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