Several Homeland Security Department officials testified at a congressional hearing that their agency's operations, staff and work with emergency officials and the private sector would be significantly jolted if lawmakers don't fund the department past Feb. 27.
With time running out before the fiscal year ends, the House Wednesday night overwhelmingly approved a stop-gap measure to fund the government through Dec. 11 once the new fiscal years starts Oct. 1. Under the bill (H.J.Res.124), which passed by a vote of 319-108, the government would be funding at fiscal 2014 levels and doesn't address federal employee pay raises. That paves the way for President Obama's authorization of a 1 percent pay raise for feds.
The House won't vote Thursday on a stopgap spending measure to fund the government for fiscal 2015 through Dec. 11. The Associated Press reported Sept. 10 that House Republican leaders are postponing the vote so they can weigh President Barack Obama's request for the authority to train and equip Syrian rebels battling Islamic State militants.
The House Appropriations Committee proposed a stopgap spending measure Tuesday that would fund the government until Dec. 11. The continuing resolution would fund the government in the first few months of fiscal 2015 at an annual rate of $1.012 trillion. Most programs wouldn't see any change under the CR, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) says in a Sept. 9 statement, which would kick in if Congress doesn't pass its appropriations bills by Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
The omnibus appropriations bill unveiled Monday includes a 1 percent pay increase to some federal workers and restores full pensions to some working age military retirees. The Postal Service would continue delivering mail six days a week under a provision in the bill. It also blocks the agency from closing small and rural post offices in fiscal 2014.
House and Senate appropriations leaders crafted a three day continuing resolution in case Congress fails to pass an omnibus appropriations bill before the current CR runs out Jan. 15. Though Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who heads the Senate Appropriations Committee, said she's confident the omnibus bill will pass, the new CR (H.J. Res 106) will give more time to come to an agreement on appropriations.
"It's hard to believe that what has happened was not the result of economic crisis, not the result of a war, but was a self-inflicted wound by people who frankly swear to make sure that they will do everything to protect and defend the Constitution of this country and this country," said Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
With the debt-limit looming, Democrat and Republican leadership turned their attention away from the government shutdown and toward averting a financial crisis. House Republican leadership Thursday pushed a clean short-term increase that would raise the debt ceiling, the Washington Post reports, and it could go to vote late Thursday.
Many companies who cannot perform their federal contract work during the government shutdown will still have to pay their employees, which could be a challenge with their government revenue cut off. Contractors retain employees who can't work during the shutdown because once it ends, "you have to have the people available to start work again immediately," said Trey Hodgkins, a senior vice president at the trade association TechAmerica.
The continuing resolution passed 54-44 along party lines and also sets temporary funding through Nov. 15, rather than Dec. 15 as the House bill included. The House could vote on the bill as early as Saturday, but with the fiscal year ending Oct. 1, if the House decides to reattach the ACA provision, the Senate might not have time to vote before the government shuts down.