After Overnight Shutdown, Trump Signs into Law Government Funding Deal

The federal government entered a partial shutdown overnight when funding briefly lapsed while Congress ironed out details for a short-term funding measure and a framework for a two-year budget deal. The shutdown was largely the result of Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) who refused to allow a vote on the measure while he spoke out against revenue hikes and subsequent increases to the federal deficit that would occur under the proposed budget deal constructed by Senate leaders.

Ultimately, Senator Paul’s pleas to amend the measure were not considered, and the Senate passed the funding measure on a 71-28 vote after 1:00 am. The measure went to the House where it was similarly delayed by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi over objections that it did not address immigration or include a solution to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program that expires early next month.

However, House Democrats declined to stall the government funding measure over immigration concerns. The House passed the measure on a 240-186 vote just before sunrise this morning; 73 Democrats voted for the bill and 67 Republicans voted against it. President Donald Trump signed in the measure into law early this morning, effectively reopening the government.

The spending measure will extend current government funding levels until March 23, 2018, which will allow Congressional leaders to finalize an omnibus spending bill for the remainder of the current fiscal year and remove the need for continued short-term funding measures. A framework for the omnibus spending measure was agreed to by both the House and Senate and President Trump with its passage this morning.

The continuing resolution and omnibus framework includes provisions to increase federal spending on defense and nondefense programs by $300 billion over the next two years and increase the debt ceiling for one year. A number of public health- and safety-related items were included in the CR and framework; for example, the measure:

  • Extends funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for an additional four years beyond its recent six-year reauthorization; CHIP is now authorized for 10 years through 2027
  • Reauthorizes funding for community health centers and related programs for two years using over $7 billion
  • Provides $6 billion dedicated to opioid treatment and mental health services
  • Increases funding to the National Institutes of Health by $2 billion
  • Extends the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program for five years
  • Provides nearly $90 billion in emergency disaster relief for states and areas impacted by recent wildfires and hurricanes
  • Dissolves the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) which was created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to control rising costs of Medicare; the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated eliminating the board would increase federal spending by $17.5 billion over the next decade
  • Delays cuts to Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments by two years

In order to partially offset the cost of these health-related spending items, Congress will be making further cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) in the net amount of $1.35 billion over the next 10 years. The offset includes increases in the PPHF between FY 2019 and 2021, but deeper cuts over the decade. At this time, it is unclear what impact the cuts will have on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the PPHF provides the CDC with 12 percent of its overall budget.

With a resolution to significant and persistent issues—that being a budget deal and an increase to the debt ceiling—Congress now moves on to other significant issue items, including immigration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already begun process in the Senate to begin floor debate next week on immigration and the DACA Program.  House Speaker Paul Ryan has also indicated his intention to address immigration in his chamber in the coming weeks.

For now, however, the repeated threat of federal government shutdowns appears to have been eliminated with the enactment of today’s continuing resolution and two-year budget framework.