The FY 2017 Continuing Resolution (PL 114-223) which has been providing funding to federal agencies at FY 2016 levels expires after 11:59 p.m. tonight, December 9. Yesterday, the House approved a second CR (HR 2028) by a vote of 326-96 which would continue the funding for federal agencies (largely at FY 2016 terms and conditions) through April 28, 2017. However, this bill has run into problems in the Senate, and there is a prospect of at least a weekend government shutdown.
At issue in the Senate is the expiring health care benefits for retired coal miners. The House-approved second CR would extend these health benefits through April 28, 2017. Coal state Senators, notably Senator Manchin (D-WV), are insisting that the bill be amended to extend the health benefits through the entire fiscal year (through September 30, 2017), and are filibustering the proceedings. (Behind-the-scenes negotiations have been underway for some time regarding a long-term solution for retired coal miner health care and pension benefits.)
It requires 60 votes to end a filibuster (“invoke cloture”). Under Senate rules Senators cannot vote to end the filibuster until 1:00 a.m. Saturday, December 10 following which there could be 30 hours of debate. Under this scenario the federal government shutdown could extend only through the weekend, and the disruption would be minimal. (Programs which receive advance funding would be largely insulated from the effects of a short-term government shutdown.)
We note that Congress has already enacted a full-year FY 2017 Military Construction-Veterans Administration appropriations bill, so those programs are not part of the CR.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has, in effect, ended its work for the 114th Congress except for meeting in pro forma session Monday, December 12 at 3:00 p.m.
We will report again on the status and details of a FY 2017 Continuing Resolution on Monday, December 12.