House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that the House will not deal with funding the government before the August recess, but said that the House will tackle the issue when it returns in September.
Boehner told reporters that the House will pass a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government open sometime in September, avoiding a government shutdown that would otherwise occur on the last day of the month. The legislation would likely expire in early December, he said, punting decisions about the nation’s spending to a lame-duck Congress just after the midterm election.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers and others had signaled that the House would attempt to pass a continuing resolution before members leave for recess next week, but Boehner said Thursday that the legislation will have to wait.
The speaker’s plan to tackle a continuing resolution in September doesn’t leave lawmakers with much time to pass a new funding bill.
Lawmakers will return from their August recess on Sept. 8 and the House will have just 10 legislative days to pass the continuing resolution. Any legislation to keep the government funded at its current levels could rankle members on the far right who would like to see deep spending cuts. But the 10-day deadline coupled with lingering memories of the fallout from last year’s government shutdown has given leverage to Republican leadership in the discussions.
It appears that House Republicans are leveraging their few remaining legislative days to get the Senate to agree to whatever continuing resolution they pass in September. The Senate is scheduled to be in session for 17 days that month (though that number could decrease, as the chamber typically takes Fridays off), giving them more time to deal with any House-passed continuing resolution, but little time to return it to the lower chamber should they seek changes.
No one on Capitol Hill is advocating for a government shutdown, given the damaging repercussions members’ faced last fall.
In passing a short-term continuing resolution and putting off the issue to December, House Republicans are handing control over future spending to a lame-duck Congress. Many had expected that they would pass a continuing resolution that would carry the government into the early months of 2015. By then, Republicans hoped, they would have control of the Senate and more control of the process and potentially a greater chance of cutting spending.
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"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.