Congress managed to sidestep a shutdown of the federal government ahead of Christmas by barely passing a temporary spending measure. The spending bill should appear before President Trump’s desk for signature without too much delay.
The temporary spending bill is viewed by economists as merely a stopgap measure in the sense that the bill, indeeds, avoids a calamity but just so. The bill punts on big decisions like immigration reform and healthcare reform but does manage to avoid sending the levers of government to a screeching halt.
In technical terms, the temporary spending bill is called a continuing resolution to ensure that the government stays on the tracks. Surprisingly, the republican-dominated House of Representatives was less than enthusiastic about the measure since it only passed by about 50 votes – 231 to 188 no votes. It passed with about the same majority in the senate – 66 to 32 no votes with two abstaining. A bipartisan coalition of republicans and democrats have thus pushed a final reckoning to January 19th.
Fortunately, there were only 16 republican senators voting against the measure, which easily put the temporary spending bill over the 60-vote supermajority needed for this kind of thing. A few good deeds in time for the holiday season may also have been done as the spending bill pushed through with bipartisan support seeks to temporarily reauthorize spending on the children’s healthcare program. The aim here is to keep nearly ten million children insured this holiday season.
The temporary spending bill still leaves the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a long-time fixation of many republicans, up in the air. Major immigration reform is in the same camp since neither will see any major revisions heading into 2018. (The recent tax reform bill did, though, do away with the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.)
Nearly a million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children will not see their fate determined by the temporary spending bill. Republicans lawmakers maintain that deciding the fate of these individuals (known as dreamers by Obama-era officials) is too big an issue to shoehorn into a temporary spending bill. More work on immigration is anticipated in the early part of next year.
Interestingly, libertarian senator from Kentucky Rand Paul voted against the measure because of a surveillance program provision that made its way in. John McCain, an Arizona senator, was out seeking treatment.