With 11 unfinished spending bills for 2017, the current federal budget has been operating under a Continuing Resolution (PL 114-254) since December 10, 2016. The CR keeps the federal budget operating at last year’s spending levels and expires on April 28th. Congress has less than 10 days to pass legislation and avoid a government shutdown – a task which could prove difficult.
While Republicans control the House, Senate, and Administration, the party has displayed recent signs of division – with Republicans failing to pass healthcare legislation. In the House, Republican control is hampered by competing factions of conservative and moderate party members. Senate Republicans, on the other hand, with only 52 seats, will require at least 8 votes from across the aisle.
The Administration has proven to be its own faction, proposing an $18 billion cut to the current fiscal year in the recently proposed FY 2018 budget blueprint. Being more than halfway through the current fiscal year, such cuts would be compressed into a short amount of time, creating difficulty for any agencies receiving the sudden shortfall. The request received mixed reactions on the Hill, with no direction given on where to make such cuts from the administration.
Congress is currently on a two-week recess, with the Senate returning April 24 and the House returning April 25. That gives just a few short days to pass a full spending bill or potentially another short-term CR.