2018 midterms

Congress Moves to Make Sure There’s No Government Shutdown Before the Midterms

The nightmare — or, for some conservatives, the dream — of another government shutdown seems to be a bit more distant, now. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

There were two major pieces of news from Capitol Hill today involving the annual appropriations process. The first is that both chambers cleared a bill (nicknamed the “minibus” as opposed to the frequently used and more comprehensive “omnibus”) that provides funding through September 2019 for a number of major segments of the federal government, as The Hill reports:

The legislation, which makes up approximately 12 percent of overall 2019 spending, was passed by a bipartisan vote of 377-20. The Senate overwhelmingly passed an identical bill Wednesday evening, and the White House has indicated that Trump will sign the measure.


The package passed Thursday includes bills for military construction and veterans’ affairs, the legislative branch as well as energy and water.

But politically, this is the bigger deal, as Roll Call reports:

Appropriators have cut a deal to keep all of the government funded through at least Dec. 7.

House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen announced at a meeting of House and Senate conferees on the combined spending bill for Defense, and Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, that the conference report will include a continuing resolution through that date, for departments and agencies not otherwise funded.

“We have reached resolution on all items and completed our work on these bills,” the New Jersey Republican said of the two bills in conference Thursday morning.

So the next appropriations package due to fly toward Trump’s desk includes a “cromnibus,” or language extending appropriations beyond the end of the fiscal year (September 30) for anything not covered by a more specific measure. That means no government shutdown before the midterms.

After the trauma trip the president put Congress through in March before finally signing the omnibus bill that is funding the federal government right now, it’s extremely unlikely that appropriators would make this announcement without ironclad assurances that Trump has abandoned his earlier threats to shut down the government over border-wall money.

There was some grumbling, however, from conservatives who can’t give up the dream of taking the government hostage for their various demands, as reflected in this missive from Heritage Action:

It is disappointing to see conservative priorities shut out of the appropriations process yet again. The appropriations bills, including those in today’s minibus, lack conservative policy riders and any level of fiscal restraint requested by the Trump administration. While the process was arguably better this year, the results were not. The appropriations process continues to be bogged down in dysfunction as defense funding is held hostage by Democrat spending priorities. This December, Republicans must find a way to marry improved process with conservative policy that voters elected them and President Trump to accomplish.

So I guess some ideologues – and maybe the president – can still dream of a government shutdown for Christmas.

Looks Like No Government Shutdown Before Midterms