It is looking more like the only major accomplishments for the 115th Congress will be the large tax cut package of 2017 and passing numerous CRs. As Monday approaches it looks likely that the Congress will extend FY 2018 for the fifth time since the fiscal year started on October 1. That CR may extend to around March 23, meaning there could be yet another one when that expires. Once again, the rationale will be that the added time will allow Congress to negotiate final budget numbers and any other deals such as immigration.
The House may introduce their CR as early as Monday with Democrats scheduled to have their retreat later this week. It is also likely that there will be complaints and threats from some conservative House Republicans seeking increases in Defense spending, but it is highly unlikely they will attempt to shut down the government to get their way.
At this rate, it is almost certain that the 2019 fiscal year will also begin on October 1, with a CR. That is because the President’s budget will come out next week with no clarity on the current fiscal year.
In addition to this, it now seems likely that Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling by early March. An earlier Treasury projection had set the deadline to raise the debt ceiling at the end of March or even April. But a new CBO analysis indicates that the sometimes-deficit conscious Congress has worsened the situation in recent months. The just-passed tax-cut will add $10 to $15 billion more per month to the deficit because of reduced individual tax collections. The CBO report also points out that in the month of December another $23 billion was added to the deficit and that the historic pattern is that deficits are not experienced in the first quarter of the fiscal year (October through December).