Kicking the Can, Punting the Ball, Putting it On Layaway: Congress and the Budget

Though the latest news is changing by the hour, word this morning is that Congress will consider a short-term spending bill to avoid the Friday deadline that would mean a government shutdown. Among other things included in this continuing resolution are an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and funding for community health centers. The proposed bill would fund the government through January 19, which just delays the conversation until after the holidays. Decisions on more hot-topic issues such as Affordable Care Act stabilization and protection for immigrants registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) will be put off as well. In an interview this morning Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO), a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus – a bipartisan group working together to bridge the aisle – announced a bipartisan proposal that would provide a path to permanent residency and eventually citizenship for some of the people registered under DACA, but the caucus appears to be prioritizing CHIP funding and will not put the budget on hold to secure an immigration program.
The House plans to vote on this continuing resolution today and adjourn, leaving the Senate to decide whether to vote on the House bill or offer a separate spending package – either way, a bill must be delivered to President Trump by midnight Friday to avoid a government shutdown.
As the budget conversation moves further down the road, we are reminded of the programs at risk – programs like SNAP, TANF, funding for workforce development education and training that are more of a launching pad than a safety net – programs that help millions of individuals and families become self-sufficient and realize career opportunities. Cutting these programs from the budget would leave families, seniors, people with disabilities and others without options, struggling to make ends meet and to move forward. So before you head off for the holidays, please take action now – contact your member of Congress and remind them to protect opportunities for working families – we hope you have a happy holiday and we look forward to standing with you as you end the year standing up for people who need access to education, skills and opportunities they need to find a job and support their families.