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    Here We Go Again: Congress Struggles to Finish FY 2017 Funding Bills

    Once again Congress is faced with the looming specter of a government shutdown. Congressional leaders of both parties are promising that they will avert a shutdown, even if it takes a little longer to complete the funding bills for FY 2017.

    Of course, the FY 2017 funding bills were supposed to be completed by last October 1. We’re now seven months into the fiscal year, and Congress is still ironing out the final details. As of yet, no one has seen the language in what will likely be a massive catch-all omnibus appropriations bill. The current continuing resolution (CR), which is funding the government, expires at midnight on Friday, April 28th.

    Any spending deal must be bipartisan. Even though Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House, the Senate needs 60 votes to advance legislation. This means the 52 Senate Republicans will need help from at least eight Senate Democrats. In the House, conservatives led by the Freedom Caucus and other fiscal hawks have regularly opposed spending bills on principle, and Democrats have provided enough votes for passage.

    For the past few weeks the Goodwill Industries International government relations team has been active on the Hill, meeting with House and Senate appropriations committee offices urging Congress to protect funding for workforce programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Pell Grants, the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), veterans employment and other programs that help Americans gain employment and live independently.

    Further, Goodwill® advocates recently met with more than half of Congress and discussed these important funding issues.

    Though hope remains, Congress isn’t likely to meet the April 28th deadline and may need a short-term funding bill to provide time to finalize and persuade enough lawmakers to support the final FY 2017 spending bill. Stay tuned for more updates as new details unfold.

    Paul Seifert
    Senior Public Policy Specialist
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