A fifth Continuing Resolution is in the offing. Look for the prospect of an FY18 omnibus appropriation to now move into February.
Funding negotiations among House and Senate Leaders and the President continue to look dreary. The Continuing Resolution under which the government presently operates will expire 19 January. We’ve reached the point in the timeline where a bill could not be produced for vote and publication by the 19th even if we had a miraculous agreement to terms today.
What Has Happened?
What appeared to be a path to a two-year agreement has unraveled. Finding the balance between non-defense and defense spending continues to elude this Congress. While still unlikely, whether or not a shutdown occurs will largely depend on how firm defense hawks stand in their insistence on immediate funding for defense. Many went along with the current CR vote in December as negotiations looked positive and a break over the holidays was palatable. Now, in the new year with mid-term primaries and elections in clear view, many rank and file Members and Senators feel the pressure to insist we get this resolved and not kick the can for the fifth time.
Outlook for Elections
In this election year, it would further appear that party support for Speaker Ryan is not assured. Frustration is widespread, and we once again find ourselves conducting cliffhanger negotiations behind closed doors at the very top of the food chain. With every Member of the House up for re-election in 2018, look for each to make their own assessment of how closely aligned to the Speaker they can be while still surviving with their constituents. Even with a “victory” under their belts in the recent tax reform legislation, the ability of House Republicans to retain their majority is very much in question. This week alone, two more long-term incumbents announced their intent to not seek re-election, bringing the total number of open seats for Republicans to 32. Democrats, in contrast, are facing 15 open seats.
Bottom line for now: another short-term Continuing Resolution next week.