Congress Narrowly Avoids Government Shutdown with Short-Term Funding Measure

On Thursday—one day before the deadline to avoid a government shutdown—the House and Senate passed a two-week stopgap funding measure. President Donald Trump signed the measure today, extending current federal government funding levels through December 22.

Extensive negotiations are expected to occur between now and the December 22 deadline, particularly as the short-term spending measure passed this week does not address the ongoing disputes between Republicans and Democrats on federal spending levels, immigration, and other major policy issues.

Included in the short-term funding measure passed this week was a provision to maintain the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is now permitted to shift funds internally to assist states whose CHIP programs are running out of money. However, reports indicate the HHS has very limited funds available to assist states without a longer-term CHIP reauthorization by Congress.

In the ongoing continuing resolution negotiations, Republicans are pushing for a more significant increase in defense spending and a less significant increase in nondefense spending. Democrats have made it clear they want an equal increase in defense and nondefense spending, extension of CHIP, and a legislative solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Despite Republicans having the majority in both the House and the Senate, they will be required to secure votes from Democrats to pass a long-term government funding measure. With several outstanding legislative priorities and few days left in the Congressional session, it remains to be seen what action Congress will take before they break for the December holidays.