On December 8, the current Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the federal government for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 expires, and the temporary debt limit suspension in place will be lifted. Congress must vote before then to pass a CR, an omnibus appropriations bill, or some combination thereof to keep the government open, or risk a shutdown. To date, none of the FY 2018 appropriations bills have been enacted, and if there is no agreement on overall spending caps for FY 2018, sequestration would be triggered causing immediate across-the-board spending cuts.
In September, the House passed an FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations measure
(H.R. 3354) by a vote of 211-198. The $1.23 trillion appropriations measure combined all individual appropriations bills. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved eight of the 12 spending bills, so far. However, none have been considered by the full Senate. Yesterday, Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) announced that he would release the draft of the four remaining bills next week, but noted it is unlikely they will get a vote in Committee given the time constraints and the ongoing negotiations for a potential, larger spending deal.
Congressional leaders and the White House are involved in negotiations over the possibility of a two-year spending deal for FY 2018 and 2019. Under a Republican proposal, the defense caps would increase by $54 billion and nondefense caps would rise by $37 billion for both FY 2018 and FY 2019. However, congressional Democrats are insisting on an equal increase to the defense and nondefense caps. Another issue to be resolved is whether or not to include cuts to other federal spending and programs as a way to pay for these potential increases to the caps. However, no agreement has yet been reached, due in large part to these differences over the distribution of an increase in discretionary spending between defense and nondefense. Timing over an agreement on these spending caps is partly driven by the upcoming December 8 deadline of the current CR.
As Congress and the White House continue to work on overall FY 2018 funding agreements, NTEU will continue to fight against proposals to cut federal employee pay and benefits, including as a way to fund other unrelated programs, while advocating for higher agency funding levels and a fair pay increase in January.
I will also keep you informed about the status of FY 2018 and the possibility of a shutdown as we head into next month.
To see what you can do, visit the NTEU Legislative Action Center.