Funding for Government Extended, What’s Next?

Published: December 28, 2017

BudgetPolicy and Legislation

Congress passes bill to fund government at FY 2017 levels through January 19th and will need to tackle major decisions by that date.

On December 22nd, funding for the federal government was signed into law to keep operations at FY 2017 levels until January 19th. The stopgap bill passed the House in a 231-188 vote and in the Senate with a 66-32 vote.

Extensions were made to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), making $2.8B available through March 31st. Moreover, surveillance authorities under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Act originally set to expire on December 31st have been extended through January 19th.  In addition, approximately $2.1B will be allotted to the Veteran’s Choice Fund to continue to allow VA patients to receive private care. Mandatory cuts demanded by the new tax bill to entitlement programs such as Medicare were also waived in the signed legislation.

Defense funding will remain the same, save for almost $5B in additional emergency funding primarily for the repair of damaged warships and boosting the missile defense program. Some specifics include,

  • $110M towards the operations and maintenance fund for damaged warships and upgrades of ballistic missile systems
  • $1.3B under missile procurement funds through September 30, 2020
  • $438M towards Research, Development, Test and Evaluation of ballistic missiles available through September 30, 2019
  • $200M until September 30, 2022 for construction of a missile field in Alaska

Before sunset of the current appropriations resolution, lawmakers will face multiple decisions. Not only will a full budget for the remaining FY 2018 time frame be needed, an agreement is required on spending cap levels set by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Immigration and healthcare will also be at the forefront of Congress’ agenda. Lastly, the current resolution does not include nearly $81B in disaster aid needed as a result of the hurricanes and fires in the past several months. The measure for aid stalled in the Senate and will be considered in the next round of negotiations.

Thus far January 2018 is panning out to be an interesting month for lawmakers due to the numerous decisions waiting to be made. With the passage of yet another stopgap bill, these ever-looming set of questions still remain – will a budget agreement be reached, is there a chance of a government shutdown or will this sea of continuing resolutions remain?