With a government shutdown fast approaching, Congress is trying to buy itself time. Yesterday, House Republicans unveiled a temporary spending bill that would keep the government funded until February 16. But there are several political roadblocks that stand in its way.
The stopgap measure is a relatively clean bill. It does not include a legislative fix for DACA nor does it resolve the ongoing squabbles over military spending. Paradoxically, however, that might imperil its chances. The New York Times reports that the bill may struggle to pass the House, because “Republicans eager to increase military spending have been frustrated with stopgap spending measures.” In the Senate, the bill will need nine Democratic votes. Several Democrats are expected to oppose it, “especially those considering a White House run,” the Times reports. Top Democrats have faced pressure from the Hispanic Caucus and immigration advocacy groups to oppose any spending bill that does not include a favorable DACA deal — despite the fact that the program will not expire until March 5.
Potentially adding to Democratic reluctance? “It’s not as clean as it looks on the surface,” an appropriations committee staffer tells me. To win over House Republicans, there are delays to several taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act, including the medical-device tax and the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost insurance plans. Yet the bill would also extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program for the next six years. After accusing Republicans of ignoring CHIP last month, Democrats could face tough questions if they block this effort to fund it. “I cannot see the Democrats voting against the Children’s Health Insurance Program,” Mo Brooks told the Times, “but they’ll be given that option in this funding bill.” If the bill does not pass, there will be plenty of recriminations to go around.