Congress Barely Avoids Government Shutdown With Short-Term Deal

The House and the Senate narrowly avoided a government shutdown on Thursday by passing a two-week stopgap spending bill.

The bill extends the time lawmakers have to negotiate a budget deal until Dec. 22 – even then, a short-term deal may pass again so that federal agencies remain funded through the rest of 2018.

House Speaker, Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called the short-term deal “basic governing” and said that the delay would give Congress time to negotiate the details of the final budget package.

“I think it’s kind of just basic governing is keeping government going while we negotiate the final details.”

Democratic leaders were less than enthusiastic about the short-term deal. Minority Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who negotiated a three-month-long deal with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) and top Republican leadership in September, noted that Democrats did not support a government shutdown, either.

But the majority of Democrats voted against the bill because Republicans have yet to address priorities including protections for DACA recipients, funding for the opioid crisis, and continued relief for communities affected by natural disasters. A shutdown likely would have angered the public, giving Democrats leverage to ensure they address these issues.

Rep. Pelosi said:

“This is a waste of time.”

Republican infighting may also hinder efforts to pass a long-term deal come December. Freedom Caucus members initially did not want to go to vote on a budget deal and withheld votes on a motion to go to conference with the Senate on the tax bill to gain leverage over the spending strategy. Those members pushed for a Dec. 30 deadline and struck a deal with GOP leaders over increased funding for defense programs through 2018.

They don’t think Democrats are likely to concede. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said:

“I don’t know that it would be intellectually honest to suggest that there’s a high degree of confidence that that will happen.”

Congress only has until March 5 to act on DACA. Immigrants’ rights advocates have criticized members of Congress on both sides of the aisle for refusing to pass “clean” immigration reform and attaching the issue to the spending bill, leaving it at the whims of other negotiations.

Republicans are pushing for DACA on a separate bill. However, the clock is ticking for DACA recipients. And if the GOP demands increased border security funding, the public won’t be happy either.

They may have avoided a government shutdown, but pay close attention. The measures passed alongside the spending bill hold great importance for some of our most vulnerable.

Featured Image Via YouTube Video.