At this time, Congress does not have a deal to fund federal agencies past next Thursday night, and the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires February 8 at midnight. The House of Representatives is currently scheduled to be in session only three days next week due to a congressional retreat for legislators to craft their agendas for the remainder of 2018.House Republican leadership is writing a CR to run through March 22, and it is reported that votes could take place on Tuesday, February 6. However, without an overall agreement on defense and non-defense spending levels, as well as other outstanding policy issues, such as immigration, it remains unclear if there are enough votes to pass another CR.
March 22 also runs past the current estimated deadline for Congress to increase the debt limit. As you may recall, in December, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, under his ‘extraordinary measures’ authority, determined a need for a debt issuance suspension period through January 31 in order to be able to keep the U.S. government below the statutory debt ceiling. This week, the Secretary informed Congress that he has extended the debt issuance period through February 28. His actions include suspending investments into the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF). These actions do not impact federal employees or retirees, and the law requires the CSRDF to be made whole once the debt limit is increased. If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, the United States will begin to default on payments that it is legally obligated to make, payments that Congress has already promised that we will make. Such a situation could create significant disruption in markets and the economy.
As we once again face an imminent government funding deadline and continued paralysis on major federal spending decisions, it is imperative that Congress and the Administration work together to keep the federal government open and determine Fiscal Year 2018 funding.
I will keep you updated on further developments. For more information, and to see what you can do, please visit the NTEU Legislative Action Center.