House and Senate agree on CR through Feb. 8

It's still not clear if President Trump will agree to punt a confrontation on funding for the border wall until February, when Democrats control the House of Representatives.

 

By Orhan Cam Royalty-free stock photo ID: 546416560 United States Capitol Building in Washington DC USA

 

House and Senate leaders from both parties have agreed to punt government funding into next year, with a continuing resolution covering about 25 percent of government operations.

The government appeared headed for a partial government shutdown on Dec. 21. Seven appropriations bills covering the Departments of Homeland Security, Commerce, State, Treasury, Interior, Housing and Urban Development and Agriculture as well as the General Services Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Management and Budget, NASA and others remain unpassed and funded by a short-term continuing resolution.

It's still not clear whether President Donald Trump will agree to defer a confrontation on border wall funding until February, when his demand for $5 billion will be complicated by Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the incoming chair of the Appropriations Committee, said in a statement that her "primary focus will be to pass reasonable spending legislation that does not fund President Trump’s wasteful wall."

The Senate is expected to pass the short-term continuing resolution on Dec. 19.

"We will turn to a clean [continuing resolution] later today, so we can make sure we don't end this year the way we began it -- with another government shutdown because of Democrats' allergy to sensible immigration policies," said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on the Senate floor.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) indicated that Senate Democrats would support the stopgap funding bill, although the preference was for either a full slate of appropriation bills, or passing six of the outstanding funding bills and letting DHS operate on a full-year continuing resolution through the close of FY 2019.

"The president and the House should follow that lead, because shutting down the government over Christmas is a terrible idea – one of the worst to come down the pike in a very long time," Schumer said.

House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) is introducing a continuing resolution bill in the House, and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced grudging support.

"This is a missed opportunity to pass full-year funding bills now," Pelosi said. "However, Democrats will be ready to fully, responsibly fund our government in January, and we will support this continuing resolution."

If passed by Congress and signed into law, the continuing resolution means a deferral of a 1.9 percent federal civilian pay raise contained in the Senate version of the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill.

On a press call hosted by the American Federation of Government Employees, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said it was "unclear" if a pay raise would be retroactively applied to January, assuming it eventually passes Congress.

"It just adds uncertainty, and it depends on how Congress acts after that date," Cardin said. "The challenge is once you pass the magic date of January… will it automatically take effect or not?"

According to an internal poll conducted among AFGE members, 80 percent of respondents said the threat of a shutdown has affected their ability to perform their work as normal.

Even if a shutdown is avoided, Steve Reaves, president of AFGE local 4060 representing Federal Emergency Management Agency employees, said that job functions are restricted under a continuing resolution."

"The regular functions of emergency management," such as training exercises and disaster preparations, are "severely impacted," he said. "During a [continuing resolution] all we can do is make sure the buildings don't burn down and nobody's breaking in."

FCW staff writer Chase Gunter contributed reporting to this story.

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