Congress Has Just Hours to Avoid a Shutdown [Updated]

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Congress has purportedly reached an agreement on a two year budget deal but it hasn't actually passed yet and, if it doesn't, the government will shut down tonight.

As of this writing, we don't know if it will pass before the midnight deadline, but we do know what's in it.

The bill will reportedly lift defense and non-defense spending caps while also funding the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for 10 years, among other things. In total, the bill will likely increase the federal deficit by at least $300 to $400 billion.

The accord would raise strict spending caps on domestic and military spending in this fiscal year and the next one by about $300 billion. It would also lift the federal debt limit until March 2019 and includes almost $90 billion in disaster relief in response to last year’s hurricanes and wildfires.

Critically, it would also keep the government funded for another six weeks, giving lawmakers time to put together a long-term spending bill that would stretch through the rest of the fiscal year. The current temporary funding measure is set to expire at midnight on Thursday.

Yes, even if this bill passes tonight, we could still have another government shutdown in six weeks, although it would be very unlikely under this agreement.

Critically, the agreement will raise the debt ceiling until March of next year when it will be someone else's problem to deal with. The deficit will be well over a trillion dollars by that time and I imagine that's when Republicans will start pretending they aren't responsible for it.

Speaking of which, you may be asking why Republicans have agreed to increase non-defense spending by over $120 billion and fund CHIP for 10 years and the answer is more defense spending.

Every Republican you can stick a microphone in front of, including Speaker Ryan himself, has heavily emphasized the increase in defense spending when asked why they intend to vote for a trillion dollar deficit.

Many of them already have, mind you, when they voted for the tax cuts.

At this moment, Senator Rand Paul is blocking the Senate from voting on the agreement and it's not entirely clear if Speaker Paul Ryan has enough votes to pass it in the House. That's why I can't say it will definitely pass tonight. It it does pass, I wouldn't expect to see a final vote until the night hours.

Update 7:45 pm... the government is probably going to shut down, at least for a few hours, because Rand Paul is a hypocrite who won't shut up. A final vote to reopen the government isn't expected until possibly 3 a.m.

  • muselet

    As of this moment (4:49 pm PDT), Rand Paul is being, well, Rand Paul and holding up a vote on the deal. According to CBS News, he’s demanding a 15-minute vote on an amendment to maintain current spending limits.

    Meanwhile, Paul Ryan claims he has the votes for the deal to pass, which of course means he doesn’t.

    Between the wanker in the Senate and the incompetent in the Speaker’s chair—and the Trump administration telling departments to be ready to shut down at midnight—I think it’s fair to say we’re screwed.


  • Nefercat

    “it would also … giving lawmakers time to put together a long-term spending bill that would stretch through the rest of the fiscal year.”
    Hahahahahahah. Oh, that’s a good one.

    These clowns can’t manage money any better than my dumb as a box of rocks dog, and he’s at least nice and probably smarter even if he does bark at air.

  • Georgie

    Almost seems like the GOP is pandering to someone or some company regarding the defense budget.

  • ninjaf

    Well, hell! If deficits don’t matter, give them the candy store in defense spending and let’s take care of Americans’ needs — universal healthcare, tuition free higher education, and infrastructure rebuilding.

  • I would love it for the mainstream media to finally acknowledge the Republicans are causing these shutdowns deliberately!

    • Melissa

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    • Scopedog

      I would love it too, but…I don’t see it happening. The media is far too invested in the “both sides are to blame” argument, and some on the Left are more interested in the “Dems caved!!” BS.

      • *Sigh* yes on both points