There are five legislative days left before a government shutdown. Congress headed into the weekend with a lack of clarity on where Congress is going on the final appropriation for FY 2018. It is looking more and more likely that this appropriation will be the proverbial “last train leaving the station.” As a result many in Congress are looking to add additional features and provisions. That is only slowing down the process even more than the various poison pill debates, the President’s occasional forays and the fight over money. As a result, there is still a possibility that the government could shut down on Friday, March 23.
The White House is not speeding up the process as the President has weighed in against the tunnel project for the New Jersey-New York area, and put back on the table a border wall proposal tied to DACA.
Because it may be the last viable deal to pass this Congress before November elections, other provisions are being considered including changes to the recently passed tax bill. One area that is getting attention is a Republican desire to fix a tax problem enacted last December. The provision added into the massive tax bill in December is now seen as hurting certain grain storage businesses by encouraging use of co-op grain storage facilities over for-profit businesses. Republican leaders want to change the provision as part of this appropriations. As a result, Democrats, who were not part of the tax negotiations, are reluctant to help fix the provision without adding in provisions Democrats are seeking. At the same time Congressional Republicans are talking up passage of another tax cut.
Aside from the various skirmishes that have been leaked to the public, there has been no public vetting of funding levels in the various appropriations bills, including child welfare and other children’s program, or even what actual level of funding has been agreed to if it has been agreed to. The only thing that is certain is that Congress is once again going to take the FY 2018 appropriations down to the wire once again.