House and President Have Until Tomorrow to Act on Senate-Passed Continuing Resolution

In what has become something of a holiday season tradition, federal agencies are again passing word to their employees that a government shutdown is possible if, by the end of the week, President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress cannot agree on a spending package to fund various key functions of the federal government.

Among the agencies threatened by the shutdown are the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, State, Interior, Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security, and Justice. The IRS has also indicated it is prepared to furlough most of its workforce, a move that could potentially have a major impact on the forthcoming tax filing season.

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed a continuing resolution that would provide funding for an additional seven weeks. For 36 of the last 40 years, Congress has used Continuing Resolutions to fund the government between full budget agreements.

The House of Representatives, expected to take up the legislation for consideration today, must pass legislation, and the President must sign it by the end of the day Friday. Thus far, the inability to fund the federal agencies has been pinned on disagreements between the president and Congress over precisely how much money should be spent on the president's proposed physical wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president has proposed that $5 billion be allocated toward the actual physical wall, while Democrats have proposed spending $1.3 billion on increasing border security. Should the two parties be unable to find a happy middle-ground between the two proposals, roughly 345,000 federal employees face furlough.

The Senate proposal, which notably does not include a pay raise for federal employees, also does not include funding for the border wall. The White House, which had previously expressed unwillingness to support legislation without border funding, has this week shifted its tone, now seemingly indicating the president would sign a clean continuing resolution.

In the House, following the Senate bill’s passage, some members of the House Freedom Caucus argued that the Senate bill was a betrayal, and that members should stay and continue to fight for the president’s proposed $5 billion.

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