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Get Ready for More Short-Term Spending Bills

Michael Rainey

We told you last week that lawmakers on Capitol Hill, seeking to avert a fight over President Trump’s border wall, were considering an option to extend funding for the Department of Homeland Security at current levels for the next year, so to avoid the contentious issue — and a possible government shutdown — altogether. Now, it looks like Congress could take that approach on several funding bills for the 2020 fiscal year, says Niv Elis of The Hill.

The Senate is expected to pass this week a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month, matching the 7-week funding bill already passed by the House. But as Elis reports, that short-term bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), could be the first of many.

Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border and repurposing of military funds for barrier construction has complicated the passage of multiple funding bills, pushing the issue beyond the homeland security bill that typically deals with the border. Now appropriators are set to battle over multiple funding bills that may be involved with Trump’s effort to build his wall, including defense, labor, health and education.

"I don't know if we'll end up in a shutdown, but we could end up with continuous CRs," Sen. Richard Shelby said, according to The Hill. "That could be the endgame."

Neither party is likely to be pleased with multiple short-term bills, since they freeze funding at current levels and limit departments' abilities to make changes and start new projects. And the longer the funding battles go on, the more political they become, increasing the odds of another government shutdown.

“I think the longer you delay, the more political things become, obviously, if we move into the election year itself,” said Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican. “So my hope is we can get this all done, if not by Thanksgiving, then certainly by the end of the calendar year.”

This article has been updated to correct Rep. Tom Cole's title.

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