Can Congress Prevent Another Government Shutdown? | Citizens Against Government Waste
The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Can Congress Prevent Another Government Shutdown?

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


When Congress comes back from its August break next week, legislators will have about 40 days between then and the end of the calendar year when both chambers will be in session.  This will leave little time for lawmakers to address a whole host of issues.

Government funding is the most pressing issue the Congress will have to undertake.

The accounting period of the federal government, known as a fiscal year, runs from October 1 to September 30 of the following year.  Congress has until Oct. 1 to fund the government or face yet another government shutdown.  This means lawmakers would only have 13 work days to pass all of their funding bills.  That’s not going to happen.  Though the House of Representatives has passed 10 of its 12 annual funding bills, the Senate has yet to pass any.  The Senate Appropriations Committee is not even scheduled to start voting on legislation until Sept. 12.

The Congress will have to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government’s lights on.  A CR continues the pre-existing appropriations for a fixed amount of time at the same spending levels as the previous fiscal year.  House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has said any CR agreement between the House and Senate would be for no more than 60 days.

Additionally, the White House has warned lawmakers that President Trump will not accept another “omnibus” spending package that combines all 12 appropriations bills into one. The president signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus earlier this year. The White House wants future appropriations bills passed in smaller chunks.

Even if the Senate were to miraculously pass all of its spending bills during September, a broader agreement with the House would still have to be negotiated.  Those negotiations potentially set up yet another funding fight for early December.  Like a lump of coal in their stocking, the American people may face the threat of another government shutdown just in time for the holiday season.

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