The federal government will shut down again if Congress can’t agree on a spending plan by this Thursday, February 8. That’s when the latest short-term funding bill, known as a continuing resolution or CR, expires. Negotiators have yet to reach agreement on how much to spend for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30. Major disputes focus on how much to increase defense spending, whether to include the same level of increased spending for non-defense programs, and/or whether to increase infrastructure spending as part of the hike in non-defense spending.
Many other issues are looming: Dreamers/Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); hurricane/wildfire emergency funding; renewal of funding for community health centers; whether to include language to repeal or weaken the longstanding protections of the Johnson Amendment, and more. Although no agreement has been reached on any of the above, the House is scheduled to vote on Tuesday, February 6, on another continuing resolution to fund the government through March 22. The White House has asked that additional funding, called “anomalies,” be included in the CR to help the IRS implement the new tax law and may request language to suspend the debt limit, because the Treasury Department believes its ability to borrow and keep the government running may run out.
The Congressional Budget Office projected last week that the U.S. will hit its debt limit sooner than expected because the new tax cuts mean less revenues. It is unclear whether Senate Democrats and conservative House Republicans will go along with another short-term CR, or demand solutions and concessions to keep the government open while negotiations continue.