The memorials to President George H.W. Bush forced Congress to push off any discussion of the budget last week. As a result a short term continuing resolution (CR) was quickly agreed to and passed by Thursday. The extension now means that funding will run out shortly before the Christmas break. The memorial services also meant that a scheduled meeting between the President and the Democratic leaders, Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) until Tuesday. That meeting more than any other may tell whether the President is serious about shutting down a part of the government.
Mr. Trump continues his demand for $5 billion in funding for the wall between the United States and Mexico. Democrats seem unwilling to go beyond the $1.6 billion that has been mentioned. Pelosi said last week she would not swap wall funding for a deal on DREAMERS but she has suggested that the Congress should finalize funding for 6 of the appropriations bills and extend funding for Homeland Security through a CR. There was little enthusiasm for that on the Republican Congressional side.
As time grinds down on the 115th Congress one unknown factor is what remains of the Republican members in the House. There are dozens of House Republicans—defeated and retiring—who have not been in town for votes. That may mean only the most basic votes can happen since outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WS) may have to depend on Democrats for votes on anything that raises a controversy.
Although there are seven of 12 appropriations to complete it represents less than 75 percent of funding with both the Defense and HHS departments funded for the rest of the year. Still awaiting a potential resolution before the end of the year: an extension of TANF, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), an agriculture reauthorization—where progress has been announced, a reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), and hanging by a Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) thread, a bipartisan criminal justice reform package.
It looks like House Republicans will have to give up on a new cut package but outgoing Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) he could see the Senate agreeing to a small tax extenders package for a number of tax breaks that run out every few years.