The Senate is currently debating whether to pass the FY17 continuing resolution (CR) or force a temporary government shutdown. The current CR expires at midnight tonight. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is leading the effort to block the CR in the Senate over funding for health insurance for retired coal miners. Manchin is pushing for more than the four-month extension of benefits that was included in the CR. The House passed the CR by a vote of 326 to 96 on Thursday.
The CR extends current funding levels for most federal agencies through April 28, 2017 and maintains the current budget cap level of $1.07T put into place under the Budget Control Act of 2011.
The bill includes $170M to help repair the contaminated water system of Flint, MI, but most of that funding hinges on passage of a separate water projects bill (S 612) that would authorize the work. That bill passed the House earlier this week, but Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has raised concerns in the Senate over an unrelated provision concerning drought relief for California. Democrats are also objecting to what they consider is a weak “Buy America” provision in the bill.
The CR includes a requirement for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to calculate whether the CR violates the spending caps that would result in an across-the-board sequester. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that the current CR that expires tonight would exceed the $518.5B limit on FY17 non-defense discretionary spending by $1.6B. Under current law, if the CR exceeds the spending caps the President is required to order across-the-board cuts to most programs. The White House had sought a provision to delay those potential cuts until a final appropriations package is completed next year.
It also contained language designed to speed the confirmation of retired Gen. James Mattis to be President-Elect Trump’s Secretary of Defense. The language would require Mattis to receive 60 votes for a waiver needed to join the cabinet because of his recent military service, but it would expedite the process in the Senate in advance of Trump’s swearing in. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) or Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) could introduce the waiver legislation within the first 30 days of the new Congress. The bill would be referred to the SASC and if it is not acted on within five days it would go directly to the Senate floor where the process would limit debate to 10 hours.
House Appropriations Committee Summary:
Senate Appropriations Committee Summaries:
Security Assistance Appropriations Act Summary
Disaster Relief Summary