Congressional Vacation Set to Create Another Fiscal Crisis

House preparing a three-month funding bill as budget negotiators look likely to miss a deadline for a bigger deal.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 13: U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) (R) listen as Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Doug Elmendorf (C) testifies during a Conference on the FY2014 Budget Resolution meeting November 13, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Elmendorf briefed the conferees on CBO's budget and economic outlook.
National Journal
Tim Alberta
Nov. 25, 2013, 2:15 p.m.

Con­gress will soon be forced to de­bate yet an­oth­er short-term, stop­gap bill to keep the gov­ern­ment open, not be­cause a budget deal can’t be reached, but be­cause law­makers haven’t left enough time to reach one.

The House and Sen­ate have already left town for Thanks­giv­ing. And once they re­turn, both cham­bers are in ses­sion con­cur­rently for just four days — Dec. 10 through Dec. 13 — be­fore Con­gress ad­journs again for the hol­i­day re­cess.

Simply put, there won’t be enough time for budget ne­go­ti­at­ors to so­lid­i­fy the de­tails of an agree­ment that sets spend­ing levels for the rest of fisc­al 2014 and fisc­al 2015 ““ much less sell it to their re­spect­ive caucuses ““ be­fore a Dec. 13 dead­line.

But that’s not the only dead­line be­ing threatened by Con­gress’s va­ca­tion sched­ule. Fund­ing for the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment ex­pires Jan. 15. So if House Budget Chair­man Paul Ry­an, R-Wis., and Sen­ate Budget Chair­wo­man Patty Mur­ray, D-Wash., fail, as ex­pec­ted, to reach agree­ment by Dec. 13, law­makers will re­turn to Wash­ing­ton the week of Jan. 6 star­ing down an­oth­er gov­ern­ment shut­down, with only about a week to do something about it.

All told, the two cham­bers of Con­gress have sched­uled just 10 days in ses­sion to­geth­er between Nov. 22 and Jan. 15, out of a pos­sible 51 days, not count­ing Thanks­giv­ing, Christ­mas, and New Year’s Day.

That’s why House Re­pub­lic­ans, be­fore leav­ing town for Thanks­giv­ing, began plot­ting to pass a con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion to keep the gov­ern­ment fun­ded past Jan. 15, when the cur­rent CR is set to ex­pire.

The like­li­hood of passing a short-term CR is high, ac­cord­ing to a House lead­er­ship aide. “But no de­cision has been made as to wheth­er we do it be­fore we leave [on Dec. 13] or when we get back [on Jan. 7],” the aide said.

Re­gard­less of tim­ing, law­makers say the most likely scen­ario is the House passing a three-month CR that funds the gov­ern­ment through April 15. “You will see a 90-day CR hap­pen,” one House Re­pub­lic­an, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied so he could speak frankly about strategy, said last week.

The pref­er­ence among GOP law­makers is to pass the short-term CR pri­or to leav­ing town on Dec. 13. That way, if talk of an­oth­er gov­ern­ment shut­down arises over re­cess, the House GOP could ar­gue it ac­ted pree­mpt­ively to keep the gov­ern­ment open be­fore head­ing home for the hol­i­days.

There’s no guar­an­tee that Con­gress would ap­prove any such short-term fund­ing bill, be­cause it would likely lock in a second round of se­quester cuts that mem­bers of both parties are hop­ing to avoid.

If ap­proved, however, the CR could buy Ry­an and Mur­ray more time to iron out the de­tails of a long-term budget deal that re­places those se­quester cuts with a mix of rev­en­ues and tar­geted spend­ing cuts.

Re­gard­less of wheth­er a budget agree­ment is reached, it’s un­clear why Con­gress, in end­ing Oc­to­ber’s 16-day gov­ern­ment shut­down, set two dead­lines that were threatened by its hol­i­day va­ca­tion sched­ule.

What We're Following See More »
DRUG OFFENDERS
Obama Grants 111 More Commutations
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a release Tuesday afternoon, the White House announced that President Obama has commuted and/or reduced the sentences of another 111 convicted criminals, mostly convicted of drug possession or trafficking. About 35 were serving life sentences.

BUT HE’S NOT ADVOCATING FOR IT
Grassley Open to Lame Duck Hearings on Garland
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said Monday he'd now be willing to hold a hearing on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in a lame-duck session of Congress. While he said he wouldn't push for it, he said if "Hillary Clinton wins the White House, and a majority of senators convinced him to do so," he would soften his previous opposition.

Source:
DEFINITELY MAYBE
Rubio Can’t Guarantee He’ll Serve a Full Term
10 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

We can call this the anti-Sherman-esque statement: If reelected, Marco Rubio ... might serve his whole term. Or he might not. The senator, who initially said he wouldn't run for a second term this year, now tells CNN that if reelected, he wouldn't necessarily serve all six years. “No one can make that commitment because you don’t know what the future is gonna hold in your life, personally or politically,” he said, before adding that he's prepared to make his Senate seat the last political office he ever holds.

Source:
DUTERTE BECAME PRESIDENT IN JUNE
Obama to Raise Multiple Issues in Meeting With Philippines Prez
11 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Since Rodrigo Duterte took over as president of the Philippines in June, he has made a serious of controversial statements and launched a war on drugs that has led to nearly 2000 deaths. He called the US ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg, "a gay son of a bitch." Next week, President Obama will meet with President Duterte at the East Asia Summit in Laos, where he " will raise concerns about some of the recent statements from the president of the Philippines," according to White House Deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes.

Source:
LATE SEPTEMBER
Conservatives Preparing ‘Dry Run’ for Constitutional Convention
11 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The Convention of States Project, which seeks to force a constitutional convention under Article V of the Constitution, will hold a "dry run" in Colonial Williamsburg starting Sept. 21. "Several states have already followed the process in Article V to endorse the convention." Thirty-four are required to call an actual convention. "The dry run in Williamsburg is meant to show how one would work and focus on the changes and potential constitutional amendments that would be proposed."

Source:
×