The House and Senate on December 7 approved a two-week stopgap spending bill (HConRes 123) that will keep the government funded through December 22. The House approved the measure by a 235-to-193 vote. The Senate quickly followed suit, approving the measure by an 81-to-14 vote, thus avoiding a government shutdown.
The move pushes the real battle over the 2018 budget to December 22. Technically, the measure gives Congress more time to negotiate a long-term budget deal. However, a long-term budget agreement, required to keep the government open and to pay for both defense and nondefense spending, has so-far eluded Congress. Democrats want overall parity for any defense spending boost, while Republicans want the Pentagon to get the most of any increase. It is now expected that another short-term patch will pass before an actual 2018 budget.
Stopgap Funding Bill
Generally, the Democrats did not support the two-week stopgap bill. Although they did not want a government shutdown, the Democrats would not support the bill because it did not include their priorities such as protections for young immigrants, funding for the opioid crisis or relief for those affected by the recent natural disasters. “This is a waste of time,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
However, the Democrats are needed to pass any long-term agreement to fund the government through 2018. Therefore, they are making some significant policy demands, including relief for so-called Dreamers. Previously, those individuals were granted temporary work permits through Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA). But, the DACA program was terminated by President Trump earlier this year.
Meanwhile, House Freedom Caucus members pushed for a date after Christmas. They relented when GOP leadership promised to push for increased defense spending in the final budget deal. However, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C. acknowledged that there is not “a high degree of confidence that it will happen.”
House Concurrent Resolution Making Further Continuing Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2018, HConRes 123