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Congress Passes Two-Week Stopgap Funding Bill

Congress averted a government shutdown by passing a two-week stopgap funding measure on December 7. The House passed the measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), keeping the government operating at FY17 levels by a vote of 235-193, while the Senate approved it by a vote of 81-14 later in the day. President Trump signed the bill on December 8. The CR will keep the government funded until December 22.

The CR continues funding for the National Flood Insurance Program and contains a provision allowing states to continue administering the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the absence of a program reauthorization.

The House and Senate, in consultation with the White House, are still working to come to a bipartisan budget deal to lift the low spending caps required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have stated that the current spending caps are unworkable and could set up the FY18 appropriations process for failure. It remains unclear when lawmakers will reach a deal on the FY18 funding levels, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has already conceded that another CR will be needed after the new CR expires later in December, but did not indicate how long the next CR would last or what may be attached to it. Such uncertainty makes it harder for housing providers who rely on federal funding to continue to serve residents and plan for future needs. 

Democrats continue to demand that any spending deal maintains parity between defense and non-defense discretionary funding. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said that parity is “the key to successful [spending] negotiations,” when speaking about the CR on the Senate floor. House Democrats have also said the appropriations must address several additional issues, including emergency disaster aid, funding to combat the opioid epidemic, and a fix for young undocumented immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.