Policy fights, funding battles still pose shutdown threat

Policy fights, funding battles still pose shutdown threat

 Nov 4, 3:26 AM (ET)


(AP) In this photo taken Oct. 20, 2015, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. talks to media on…
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite a broad budget deal, the White House and congressional Republicans must resolve dozens of policy issues and spending fights if they are to avoid a holiday season government shutdown.

Hot-button battles over Planned Parenthood, the environment and money for agencies like the IRS could still derail a must-do spending bill to keep the government running.

The goodwill that emerged from the bipartisan budget-and-debt bill that President Barack Obama signed into law on Monday could be short-lived as GOP leaders look first to sooth the feelings of rank-and-file Republicans opposed to the underlying budget pact. GOP leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan appear to be under pressure to show some fight and avoid getting steamrolled by Democrats and Obama, who bring plenty of leverage to the talks.

Filling in the details of $66 billion in additional spending for the Pentagon and domestic agencies — and sorting out dozens of policy battles — give a divided, dysfunctional Congress plenty of chances to stumble.

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Warning of Looming Shutdown, Lawmakers Look to Boost Agencies’ Budget Certainty

Warning of Looming Shutdown, Lawmakers Look to Boost Agencies’ Budget Certainty

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., has often floated a proposal to move to biennial budgeting.
Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., has often floated a proposal to move to biennial budgeting. Tim Goessman / AP

As some lawmakers warned the recent budget deal has not yet staved off a government shutdown, others on Wednesday looked to reform the budgeting process in the long term.

Federal agency planners spend a disproportionate amount of their time preparing for various budget contingencies, senators said during a Budget Committee hearing, instead of conducting more mission-critical work. The current system is broken, expert witnesses and members of both parties agreed, leading to less transparency and oversight of federal spending.

The committee held the hearing to review an oft-floated proposal from its chairman, Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., to move to biennial budgeting. After approving a two-year measure setting top-line spending, Enzi’s bill would require lawmakers to pass half of the 12 appropriations each year. The more controversial spending bills would be reserved for non-election years.


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GOP readying for end-of-year spending fights

GOP readying for end-of-year spending fights

Angered by Democratic success in the recent budget deal, Republican aim for policy wins in year-end spending package.


151104_senate_gop_2_gty_1160.jpgSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined by, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, Sen. John Thune and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn during a Capitol Hill press conference. | Getty

Republicans are threatening to jam Democrats with controversial policy riders in December on everything from Dodd-Frank rollbacks to curbs on the Environmental Protection Agency’s powers, hoping to get revenge on a minority that’s spent the past week gloating over a bipartisan budget deal.

With Congress facing a Dec. 11 deadline to pass a year-end spending bill, the drama will focus on GOP attempts to slip significant policy changes into the omnibus package at the eleventh hour and force congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama to swallow them. Republicans are looking past deal-breakers like defunding Planned Parenthood or blocking Obama’s immigration actions, shifting instead to more granular policies they think Democrats could be forced to accept.
“Democrats insisting that there not be policy riders is … a big mistake,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “There’s never been an omnibus bill that didn’t have policy riders. This bill will have policy riders in it, and I think it’s only a process of seeing how many and how far they go.”

Continue reading “GOP readying for end-of-year spending fights”

Government shutdown lurks in budget negotiations

Government shutdown lurks in budget negotiations

The Budget Bipartisan Act of 2015 is like a paper map for preventing government shutdown. While it lays out a clear route to where you want to go, it’s still depends on the user to get there.

The legislation, which was signed into law on Nov. 2, provides the broad strokes of how to fund the government for the next two years, but Congress still has to decide exactly how it will appropriate funding by Dec. 11 or the government could still shutdown.  That said, passive of what can be deemed a spending guide of sorts has legislative watchers cautiously optimistic.

“It will provide a small amount of stability and some predictability for the government overall,” said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel of the Professional Services Council. “There are still some hurdles to overcome between now and Dec. 11. We’ll be watching those closely, but having this agreement is far better than not having it.”

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Ryan fires warning shot at White House ahead of shutdown deadline

Ryan fires warning shot at White House ahead of shutdown deadline

By Deirdre Walsh and Manu Raju, CNN

Updated 8:14 PM ET, Tue November 3, 2015 | Video Source: CNN

Washington (CNN)House Speaker Paul Ryan warned the White House and Democrats Tuesday that Republicans won’t back down from a fight over government spending that left unresolved could result in a mid-December shutdown.

“This is the legislative branch, and the power of the purse rests within the legislative branch. And we fully expect that we are going to exercise that power,” Ryan said when pressed over whether he planned to attach so-called “policy riders” to a must-pass spending bill that Congress needs to approve before December 11.

The two-year budget deal that President Barack Obama signed on Monday sets the overall levels for government spending, but in order to avoid another government shutdown, the House and Senate need to approve a funding bill detailing levels for all federal agencies. Continue reading “Ryan fires warning shot at White House ahead of shutdown deadline”