Shutdown deadline looms as Congress returns to fight over funding

Lawmakers return to work Tuesday facing a deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown at the end of t...

Posted: Sep 4, 2018 1:12 PM
Updated: Sep 4, 2018 1:12 PM

Lawmakers return to work Tuesday facing a deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown at the end of the month, something Republicans leaders are anxious to avoid as they brace for what could be a tough midterm election in November.

The House and Senate have made more progress this year than usual toward passing spending bills through their respective chambers. But they have yet to merge any of their separate bills into final legislation that could pass both bodies and be sent to President Donald Trump for his signature in just four weeks.

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The pressure to complete that difficult task will mount in the days ahead as the October 1 fiscal year deadline approaches and Republicans, who control both chambers on the Hill, try to demonstrate to voters they can govern effectively and deserve to remain in power.

The Senate, which canceled its August recess to work on spending bills and nominations, has passed nine of its 12 appropriations bills, while the House, which took the month off, has passed just six.

"1999 was the last time the Senate passed nine appropriations bills by the end of August," said Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican and chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

The appetite to pass appropriations bills grew after the spring, when Trump threatened to veto a must-pass spending bill that kept the government open and vowed not to sign another omnibus like it when the government ran out of money in the fall. That has motivated lawmakers to work together on issues that have easily become politicized in years past.

GOP members of the House and Senate leadership will head to the White House Wednesday to meet with the President on the path forward for the spending and appropriations bills, according to two sources with knowledge of the meeting.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that there is bipartisan desire to avoid a giant omnibus spending bill, in part, because of Trump's threat. Instead, GOP leaders have packaged the bills that fund government agencies into small groups, an effort to save floor time and pass as many bills as possible before the deadline.

"Given how completely fouled up the government funding process has been for 20 years, our Democratic colleagues in the Senate are to be commended for cooperating with us," McConnell told reporters, saying the Senate had already approved funding for 90% of the government. "It's an important step forward and ought to reassure the American public that the Congress in good hands, which we know that they'll have something to say about the first Tuesday in November."

But before McConnell can claim credit for his disciplined, regular-order approach, there are still tough hurdles ahead as the two chambers press forward with their competing bills.

In the House, where bills can pass without the support of Democrats, conservative Republicans are demanding tough policy measures related to abortion, the Affordable Care Act, immigration and other contentious issues be included in the spending measures. Conservatives like members of the House Freedom Caucus aren't expected to give up the fight easily, especially with a contentious leadership election looming after the midterms.

Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and a member of the House Freedom Caucus who has already announced he plans to run for speaker, tweeted before the House recess that the best way to fund the government was "to Fund the border security wall -Reduce spending outside of defense -#DefundPlannedParenthood," Jordan tweeted. "We should #DoWhatWeSaid."

Senators last month voted down an amendment that would have blocked federal funding from going to Planned Parenthood.

In the Senate, where 60 votes are needed for spending bills to pass, bipartisan leaders have worked tirelessly to avoid hot-button issues from torpedoing their legislation.

"The Senate will continue to move forward on appropriations bills that have bipartisan support, that are at spending levels agreed to in the bipartisan budget deal, and that reject poison pill riders and controversial authorizing language," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, in a statement last month.

The spending showdown is expected to be especially tense when it comes to the issue of the border wall. The President's signature campaign promise has become a flash point between Democrats and Republicans and even among GOP members in the House and the Senate. The House allocated $5 billion for the wall while the Senate has set aside $1.6 billion.

To that point, leaders are so concerned about triggering a major fight with the President over his desire for border wall funding, they are expected to put off taking up funding for the Department of Homeland Security -- as well as several other agencies -- until after the election.

Those agencies are expected to be funded on a temporary basis through a continuing resolution, or CR, until spending agreements can be reached.

The work on appropriations, while important and time consuming for lawmakers, is unlikely to draw too much attention away from other major events taking place this month, including the confirmation process for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be a justice on the Supreme Court, the ongoing battle over tariffs that Trump is leading as he works to reshape the country's trade policies, the continued investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller that threaten the White House, and of course, interparty jockeying ahead of the all-important November 6 midterm elections.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 601937

Reported Deaths: 9593
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion831111322
Lake44972678
Allen32498545
Hamilton29039315
St. Joseph27133380
Elkhart24291343
Vanderburgh19160246
Tippecanoe17799130
Johnson14871292
Porter14631167
Hendricks14188247
Madison10851219
Vigo10636178
Clark10520137
Monroe9299110
Delaware9055134
LaPorte8972160
Howard8134142
Kosciusko800382
Warrick665197
Hancock6575103
Bartholomew637999
Floyd6322109
Wayne6076161
Grant5937113
Dubois552578
Boone544967
Morgan530594
Henry503464
Marshall499884
Cass478663
Dearborn470745
Noble468357
Jackson420747
Shelby410781
Lawrence387478
Clinton370642
Gibson365559
DeKalb344264
Montgomery340754
Harrison340544
Knox333139
Miami317344
Steuben311545
Whitley301725
Wabash299747
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Ripley296545
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Jasper287634
White270340
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Jefferson257938
Fayette245148
Decatur244883
Greene238162
Posey236927
Wells233350
LaGrange226361
Scott221838
Clay220932
Randolph212148
Jennings195836
Sullivan190833
Spencer188019
Fountain182127
Washington182022
Starke174443
Jay166322
Owen162837
Fulton162330
Orange156333
Carroll155415
Rush153318
Perry151227
Vermillion147334
Franklin146933
Tipton130932
Parke13018
Pike115626
Blackford110522
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Newton90521
Brown86833
Benton85910
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Martin72313
Warren6757
Switzerland6455
Union6227
Ohio4787
Unassigned0375

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 849704

Reported Deaths: 10518
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin100046706
Cuyahoga845231068
Hamilton63092447
Montgomery42660405
Summit34405754
Lucas31041611
Butler30546229
Stark25443429
Warren19436140
Lorain18767223
Mahoning17163337
Lake15882153
Clermont15697110
Delaware1422678
Licking13067137
Trumbull12680313
Fairfield1262180
Greene11915136
Medina11439167
Clark10802265
Wood10230158
Allen9774126
Portage9163107
Miami907373
Richland9035117
Marion7420113
Tuscarawas7280179
Columbiana7263124
Pickaway719550
Wayne6954169
Muskingum690741
Erie6090127
Hancock547590
Ross543487
Scioto533664
Geauga501155
Darke465591
Ashtabula449373
Lawrence447053
Union444928
Sandusky433062
Mercer432088
Huron423541
Seneca423465
Auglaize419662
Shelby419421
Jefferson415469
Belmont411240
Washington383340
Athens37379
Putnam372674
Madison349929
Knox347922
Ashland342538
Fulton335243
Defiance327782
Crawford319472
Preble318437
Brown307121
Logan304132
Ottawa289243
Clinton286643
Williams275866
Highland271818
Jackson261345
Guernsey249825
Champaign249328
Fayette234429
Morrow23014
Perry228318
Holmes222864
Henry216849
Hardin210133
Coshocton203521
Van Wert200545
Gallia194726
Wyandot193851
Pike172417
Adams172015
Hocking169824
Carroll153216
Paulding143221
Noble119940
Meigs106823
Monroe100331
Harrison87821
Morgan82229
Vinton68913
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