Short-term CR introduced to avert shutdown

Source: George Cahlink, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 27, 2017

Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan (right) has vowed not to allow a government shutdown. Photo courtesy of C-SPAN.

Congress will pass a short-term stopgap spending bill this week to avert a government shutdown tomorrow, as lawmakers have yet to wrap up negotiations over a broad spending package for fiscal 2017.

House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) announced late last night the introduction of a $1.07 trillion continuing resolution that will “keep the government open and operating as normal” through May 5 until permanent funding is passed. It will also continue health benefits for coal miners until a deal is finalized.

“I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon,” Frelinghuysen said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters yesterday he also expects Congress to come to an accord to provide fresh funding for the rest of government in the coming days.

The House Rules Committee approved a measure yesterday to allow for same-day consideration of spending legislation either tomorrow or Saturday. Leaders have taken such a step before under similar circumstances.

Federal agencies have spent the first six months of fiscal 2017 operating under a continuing resolution that funds them at fiscal 2016 levels. Those dollars lapse at midnight Saturday.

Appropriators from both parties said they were making progress on a bill that would provide fresh spending for most, if not all, agencies under the 11 unfinished spending bills. Leaders yesterday were said to be working through a handful of provisions that appropriators had been unable to settle.

Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur, the top Democrat on the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, said she was confident her panel’s bill that funds the Energy Department and the Army Corps of Engineers would make the package.

Less certain was the Interior and environment spending bill, which has been hamstrung by various environmental riders and a dispute over U.S. EPA funding. Agencies not receiving fresh dollars would likely keep current funding through the end of fiscal 2017.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), a senior appropriator, said there was a desire among lawmakers to get “the pain over with” by passing the massive catchall omnibus bill this week. But like many on Capitol Hill, he said he would not oppose a one-week CR.