(February 6, 2018) Congress has barely 48 hours to act if it wants to avoid another government shutdown. The fourth continuing resolution of fiscal 2018 ends at midnight Thursday.
House Republicans agreed Monday on a continuing resolution that has little chance of finding Democrat support. Expected to be introduced Tuesday, it would fund the Defense Department through September, but provide funds for the rest of the government only until March 23.
Democrats have been adamant that any defense spending hike must be matched by funds for nondefense programs. The House plan could pass its chamber, but has little chance in the Senate where it would need 60 votes.
“We want to fund defense, absolutely, but we also want to fund programs that help the middle class,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Senate minority leader.
Muddying the waters, too, is the insistence by some Democrats that any legislation provide protection for “dreamers,” illegal immigrants brought to the country while they were children. President Donald Trump wants to end in early March the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created under President Barack Obama, which would put 700,000 young people at risk of deportation.
More than one bipartisan proposal would protect them while adding security to the border, but there is still division that could push this issue to the brink.
Meanwhile, a panel of government contractors last week said continuing resolutions, which freeze the budget at the previous year’s level, drive up costs, according to Federal Times.
“There’s no cost savings in continuing resolutions,” said Ann Darrin, an engineering manager at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. “Actually, it’s the opposite. It drives the costs up because you can’t start [projects] in a timely manner. You can’t plan. You have to recover. Things get dragged out and you can’t take advantage of new technologies that are coming in.”
Other panelists agreed with her assessment.