Another CR to Keep Government Funded Past February 8?

The House passed a $659B FY18 defense appropriations bill (H.R. 695) this week for the third time on a mostly party-line vote of 250-166 (23 Democrats voted yes). The bill includes $584B in regular appropriations and $70B in emergency supplemental spending. The vote in the House was largely symbolic, as the bill had no chance of passing the Senate. Democrats in the Senate first want to reach a bipartisan budget deal. The funding caps for FY18 are $549B for defense and $516B for non-defense programs. H.R. 695’s funding level exceeds the FY18 funding cap by $35B, but a provision in the bill exempts it from the automatic sequestration cuts that would be triggered.

The current FY18 continuing resolution (CR) funds the federal government through next Thursday, February 8. The House will likely consider another CR (the fifth this fiscal year) that would keep the government open another six weeks through March 22.

The six week timeframe for the CR could complicate negotiations as the deadline for winding down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program set by the President is March 5, and the Congressional Budget Office now estimates that the Treasury Department will run out of extraordinary measures for the debt ceiling sometime in the first half of March. Both issues need to be addressed before March 22.

The Trump administration has asked House Republicans to include language suspending the debt ceiling in the next short-term spending bill. In addition to a provision to raise the debt ceiling, the next CR could include $80B in disaster relief as well as a $300B sequester relief package.

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