Groundhog Day was last Friday, but the Congress may be living the movie version of that day, as lawmakers come back to work this week with another deadline staring them in the face for a government shutdown, seemingly no closer to any deals to fund Uncle Sam’s operations for the rest of 2018, and no closer to an agreement on DACA and immigration, the issues that spurred a three-day shutdown back in January.
“Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time,” President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday morning, reminding everyone of the lack of progress since the January 19 shutdown.
GOP leaders had said last week that the House would likely vote on a new stopgap funding measure on Tuesday – but in the hours after the Super Bowl, no bill was posted online by Republicans, meaning that vote might slip to Wednesday.
One of the flash points in the last shutdown was over what to do about illegal immigrant “Dreamers,” but not only is there no evidence of an agreement on that issue, but nothing as well on the overall spending levels for the current fiscal year.
Both parties keep pointing the finger of blame at each other for the latest example of budgetary failure in the Congress – as lawmakers are now more than four months into the new fiscal year, and they still haven’t finalized spending plans for the feds.
Republicans say Democrats are to blame, arguing they have held up agreement on a two-year deal to lift the ‘spending caps’ on how much money can be spent – Republicans want a big increase in funding for the military, while Democrats say they want an equal amount for non-defense projects.
But the idea of more spending – as much as $200-$300 billion over two years – does not sit well with some GOP fiscal hawks, who want no part of an increase in spending.
In the coming weeks, it's expected that both parties will vote to spend hundreds of billions of dollars more over the next two years,” said Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). “These spending levels are unsustainable.”
Complicating matters this week is that House Democrats have a party retreat on Thursday and Friday – just like GOP lawmakers did last week – that means the House can’t wait until the last minute.
GOP rules require any bill to be posted ahead of time, so if that is done on Monday – that would mean a vote no earlier than Wednesday in the House.
It’s expected the next stopgap measure would fund government operations into March, to give lawmakers more time – again – to reach agreement on the budget – as well as DACA.