Government shutdown and Presidential impeachment: what gives?
Can Congress multi-task? We're about to find out.
Will Congress be spending the holidays camping out in town? Hmmmm.
Washington is all about the impeachment hearings these days. You should know that many bars are opening in the morning and featuring Impeachment Drinks to sip as TV's blast the hearings. Here are a few you might like to try at home:
The current continuing resolution - a bill that keeps the government temporarily funded - expires next week, on November 21. Congressional leaders have been scrambling this week to find a way to keep government funding extended beyond that time, and thus avoid a government shutdown. They appear to be closing in on another temporary funding extension - through December 20 - predicated on progress on the big obstacle - which is agreeing on top line totals for each of the 12 funding bills. Since the House and Senate did not agree on those totals before they wrote their bills, there are significant discrepancies which can only be resolved by a House/Senate agreement on one figure for each bill. This is critical for the bill that funds education, as the House bill is about $5 billion more generous for education than the Senate draft bill.
Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) reported that she is optimistic that the top line numbers will be resolved and that all of the 12 funding bills for FY 2020 (which would run through October 1, 2020) could be completed by December 20. The big obstacle remains where to find the $5 billion for the border wall with Mexico which is President Trump's top priority; it is opposed by Democrats. There is speculation that if the President's priority is not accommodated, he may refuse to sign the bill and a government shutdown might ensue. Of course, this would also be quite a distraction from the ongoing impeachment hearings, which many have speculated may be his strategy.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor/HHS/Education has indicated that when the Subcommittees are provided with the top line number for each bill, he and Rep. Rosa DeLauro -- his House counterpart - could finish their bill within a week. What a Christmas present this would be for educators!
The Congressional calendar becomes a driving force this time of year as legislators are forced to finalize the agenda before year's end. Here is what it is looking like:
|Week of November 18:||Congress in session|
|Week of November 25 (Thanksgiving):||Congress in recess|
|Weeks of December 2, 9 and 16:||Congress in session|
|December 20:||Congress plans to recess until January|