Since Congress put off its funding fight for another two weeks, a heated spending showdown will now take place right before the Christmas holiday.
Lawmakers passed a stopgap bill on Thursday to avoid a shutdown and keep the government running through Dec. 22. As a result, the real budget battle — and the threat of a shutdown — will come later this month.
The fight to fund the government will likely center on two major issues: the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and defense funding.
According to a report in The Hill, there are several other year-end funding priorities that both parties will also be scrambling to address before they leave town, in addition to negotiating a final tax bill that Republicans hope to send to President Trump’s desk by Christmas. Here’s a rundown:
Trump announced earlier this year that he was ending the Obama-era DACA program, which grants work permits to undocumented young immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children.
With DACA recipients set to lose their status beginning in early March, Congress has just a few months left to save the program or come up with a new solution. Many Democrats and even some Republicans, such as Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), have demanded that any spending legislation that stretches into 2018 shield so-called Dreamers from deportation.
In order to buy more time to write a massive, omnibus spending package, it’s all but certain that Congress will need to pass another continuing resolution (CR) on Dec. 22.
Defense hawks and conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus worry that another short-term spending bill would be harmful to the military, insisting that leadership boost money for the Pentagon before the end of the year. In fact, many have threatened to vote against another CR this year if that doesn’t happen.
In order to win her vote for the GOP tax reform bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to support passage of two bipartisan ObamaCare fixes before the end of the year, which could be attached to a government funding bill.
House conservatives say the measures are only propping up ObamaCare.
To lock up the necessary Republican votes for the two-week CR this week, House GOP leadership promised that the next spending bill would not contain funding for ObamaCare cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, according to Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.).
“The three things that we’ve been told are not going to happen as part of our agreement: no CSRs, no DACA, no debt limit,” said Walker, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee
There’s a bipartisan effort to provide more supplemental funding for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida, as well as for western states devastated by wildfires.
Disaster aid could be attached to the next CR, but members are still debating the cost, according to Walker.
Last month, the White House requested the third infusion of aid, to the tune of $44 billion, to help with relief and recovery efforts. But critics say it doesn’t go far enough to address the damage from the series of natural disasters.
Other health care issues
The renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expired in September, could be attached to the next CR in an effort to sweeten the pot and attract more Democratic votes for the stopgap bill.
Democrats have also said that they want additional funding to fight the deadly opioid crisis in a larger spending deal.
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