Congressional leaders have struck a bipartisan deal to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month and put off a divisive fight over funding for President Trump’s border wall with Mexico until after November’s elections. The main question now is whether the president will go along.
The congressional agreement, announced on Thursday by House Appropriations Committee Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), couples two fiscal 2019 spending bills — those for Defense and for Labor, Health and Human Services and Education — with a stopgap measure to keep federal departments and agencies not otherwise funded operating through December 7.
The two spending bills represent the bulk of the required appropriations for 2019, while the short-term “continuing resolution” covers the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Trump's border wall. By linking those bills, lawmakers reportedly believe they’ve made it politically impossible for Trump to reject the whole package in pursuit of more money for his border wall. “If Trump vetoes it, he would force a shutdown — which would include a shuttering of some Pentagon operations,” Politico’s Sarah Ferris notes. Vetoing the package would mean blocking funding increases for the Pentagon that have been a top priority for Trump and congressional Republicans.
The details of the final Defense and Labor-HHS-Education bills are expected to be released by the end of the week, but lawmakers reportedly removed partisan provisions that could have prevented an agreement, including Republican language to defund Planned Parenthood and destabilize Obamacare and Democratic efforts to ensure that federal money can’t be used to buy guns for teachers.
The legislation is expected to get a vote in the Senate next week and in the House the following week, after representatives returns from their recess.
The bottom line: This deal should keep the government from shutting down after the end of the fiscal year on September 30, but that’s not a certainty just yet. “While the announcement Thursday reduces the odds of a shutdown, midterm politics or the Freedom Caucus, a group of very conservative members allied with Trump, could always throw a curveball,” The Washington Post’s Erica Werner says, adding, “The deal could also cement another setback for deficit hawks, because it would continue the Trump-era tradition of boosting up spending levels in the hopes of receiving bipartisan support.”