The continuing resolution will keep the government going until the December deadline.
It’s that time of year when Congress will fight over a short-term funding bill to avoid a government shutdown. We all know what will happen. They’ll talk tough and then pass something at the last minute and go their merry ways.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has faced criticism from Democrats and members of his own party for the Senate’s version of the bill. Some of his fellow GOP members believe the version “doesn’t include conservative policy proposals.” House conservatives want to do what they can to extend this stopgap bill into January so Congress isn’t rushed to pass a full spending bill before Christmas.
The Daily Signal reports:
A temporary fix, the Senate measure extends federal funding at the current $1.07 trillion level until Dec. 9. That timetable sets up another fight over spending during the lame-duck session after the election.
The Senate’s legislation also includes relief funds for victims of the flooding that battered Louisiana in August and money to combat the Zika virus that has spread in the South all summer.
It does not contain a provision that would keep money meant to fight the Zika virus from flowing to the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. Democrats torpedoed three earlier Zika bills that contained the prohibition.
Senate Democrats aren’t happy because the bill does not include funding for Flint, MI, to help with water contamination issues. President Barack Obama drank a glass of water in public to show that the water was safe for drinking. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has asked her colleagues to vote against the bill since it does not include a Flint provision:
“We Democrats cannot vote … for that substitute and urge others to vote against it,” she said on the floor shortly before McConnell released the proposal publicly.
“We believe that the people of Flint, Mich. … who have been waiting for more than one year, should be included in this continuing resolution.”
Republicans have also lashed out because the legislation “doesn’t contain any language barring the White House from relinquishing U.S. control of ICANN, the nonprofit that functions as the directory of the internet by curating website domain names.” Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has tried to stop the executive branch from passing “ICANN to an international body for more than a month.”
The House of Representatives has its own dramatic problems. The Freedom Caucus wants to introduce an amendment to the spending bill “that would automatically extend the stop-gap spending bill to Jan. 18 if an agreement is not reached by the December deadline.” The Washington Post reported:
“I think you have to be cautious about doing major things in a lame-duck session where members are no longer accountable,” [Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim] Jordan said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.” “Bad things happen on spending right before the holidays. We’ve had five years of experience with that.”
Conservatives hope that their amendment will remove any chance that Republican and Democratic leaders can use the threat of a shutdown to force a last-minute deal in December when lawmakers are typically in a rush to avoid a holiday season shutdown. Conservatives worry that leaders are more likely to accept a massive year-end spending bill that is loaded with goodies for special interests if they worry a shutdown is imminent, aides said.
Will Republicans cave? Unfortunately, they typically receive the blame for government shutdowns, but this year presents a special case due to the awful election and the possibility of losing the Senate majority:
“If the shutdown is a few days, it will be forgotten by November,” said Larry J. Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist. “But if this turns into a real stalemate, it would almost certainly hurt Republicans since they are in the majority in both houses.”
Yet at the same time, could a government shutdown help GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump?
Republicans have struggled at times to make the case that they are effective stewards of the Congress and the White House. They face a difficult challenge especially amid a raucous campaign in which Trump repeatedly denounced the GOP controlled Congress, the Republican political establishment and even the past Republican administration of George W. Bush for incompetence.
“Trump could use a government shutdown as another reason to advocate for change and why Washington doesn’t work,” said Ron Bonjean, a Washington policy adviser and former Republican congressional aide. “Senate Democrats could also use it against the Republican majority to make their case about why they should be in charge.”
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