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article imageLawmakers have five weeks to agree on funding the government

By Karen Graham     Oct 23, 2019 in Politics
Senators broke a months-long stalemate over funding the government on Tuesday by starting work on a package of four spending bills, but major hurdles remain to avoid a government shutdown next month.
As is usual on Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats have competing appropriation bills. However, getting to a final compromise requires agreement on spending allocations, known as 302(b)s, for the 12 annual bills.
And so far, the House and Senate have been working from different spreadsheets. The leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), have sent offers back and forth in recent weeks but have yet to reach a deal.
Currently, the government is being funded with a continuing resolution that expires Nov. 21. If no compromise is reached between the House and Senate on an appropriations bill, the government could again go into a shutdown right before Thanksgiving.
US President Donald Trump triggered a partial government shutdown on December 22 as a way of pressur...
US President Donald Trump triggered a partial government shutdown on December 22 as a way of pressuring Democrats to back his plan for a border wall with Mexico
While there has been a little progress - at least the two factions are talking to each other - lawmakers remain deadlocked on funding levels in several areas that include Homeland Security and the $5 billion in proposed funding for Trump's wall along the southern border.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted 92-2 to take up four of its 12 annual bills as a substitute for a House-passed package, according to The Hill. The package contains the Senate’s Agriculture, Transportation-HUD, Interior-Environment, and Commerce-Justice-Science measures. One particular sticking point with many lawmakers is how they are going to backfill some reprogrammed defense and military construction funding already diverted to the wall project.
Senate Democrats are against appropriations being siphoned off for the border wall and are also angry after Republicans forced 302(b) allocations through a committee that they argued provided additional funds for the Department of Homeland Security bill.
However, this dispute will come to a head as early as this week. Mitch McConnell has put together a second spending package, which will include the defense bill, for consideration after the domestic spending package. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has pledged that Democrats will keep the Pentagon spending bill from getting the 60 votes needed to advance.
The Pentagon announced Trump had ordered the withdrawal of 1 000 troops from Syria
The Pentagon announced Trump had ordered the withdrawal of 1,000 troops from Syria
Besides the defense bill, Schumer says the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services and military construction bills are all currently stuck in limbo. “If Republicans are willing to engage with us on the 302(b)s, we get negotiations back on track for funding the government,” he said.
What is a 302 (b) Allocation?
Each year, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees receive an overall funding allocation for the coming federal fiscal year. The two Appropriations Committees then each decide on how to apportion the overall amount to each of their corresponding 12 subcommittees.
The amount assigned to each of the 12 subcommittees is known as a 302(b) allocation and taken together the 12 assigned amounts are known as 302(b) allocations. It is the job of these various subcommittees to distribute federal spending authority throughout the specific departments, agencies, and programs under their jurisdiction.
And as most readers will conclude, the Senate and House subcommittees will quite often have differing allocations, resulting in compromise.
More about appropriations bill, government shutdown, expires Nov 21, border wall, huge defense bill
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