After a tumultuous week in Washington, the country is headed for its second shutdown in less than a year. It appeared that a shutdown would be averted on Wednesday, December 19 after the Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the remaining seven appropriations bills at their current funding levels until February 8, 2019. However, plans quickly changed after President Trump announced on December 20 that he refused to sign any bill that did not include at least $5 billion for border wall funding. Trump had gone back and forth throughout the week on whether he would be willing to support any spending bill that included less than his originally requested $5 billion. Democrats repeatedly refused to budge on any increase in wall funding and eventually reached a tentative CR deal with congressional Republicans for a short-term package that would push the debate into 2019. After it appeared Trump would agree to the deal, he later announced that he would refuse to sign the bill until it allocated the $5 billion for wall funding. After hearing this, House Republicans crafted a new spending bill that included $5.7 billion for border wall funding and $8.7 billion in emergency disaster aid. The remaining programs would all be funded from their FY 2019 levels. The bill passed the House 217-185. However, this bill failed to gain the 60 votes necessary to pass the Senate as Senate Democrats once again spurned Trump’s call for increased border wall funding. After weeks of tense standoffs and uncompleted deals, the government shut down at 12:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 22.
How long the shutdown will last is unknown. Most members have left Washington for the holidays and it appears that any new funding deal will have to be reached with the House under Democrat control in 2019. Fortunately, education funding has already been decided for FY 2019 as the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill was passed earlier this year. For a breakdown of NASSP priorities in that bill, please visit my previous blog post.
NASSP will continue monitoring the situation and will provide updates in future blog posts.