Congressional leaders have come up with a plan to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. If all goes according to plan, Congress will have passed five of the 12 appropriations bills for FY 2019 before the funding deadline. This means that at the start of FY 2019, a large part of the federal government will be fully funded for the new fiscal year – a real accomplishment given that Congress has long struggled to pass spending bills on time.
This week, both the House and Senate passed the conference agreement for the first FY 2019 minibus spending package (H.R. 5895), which covers funding for Energy-Water, Milcon-VA, and the Legislative Branch. Additionally, bicameral negotiators approved the conference report for H.R. 6157, a two-bill minibus that includes funding for Defense and Labor-HHS-Education, which makes up about 70 percent of the federal government’s annual discretionary spending. The House is expected to vote on H.R. 6157 when it returns from recess on Sept. 25.
For agencies that won’t receive their full FY 2019 funding in time, a stopgap spending measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), has been included in the H.R. 6157 package to ensure that they will be able to continue to operate at current funding levels from Oct. 1 through Dec. 7.
To be sure, President Trump could upend the whole plan if he decided to veto H.R. 6157 over funding for his border wall, but congressional leaders are betting that he won’t reject a bill that would provide more than $674 billion for the Department of Defense.