Congress continues to work on overdue spending legislation for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, with Republicans discussing the addition of policy measures that Democrats have opposed or are likely to resist.
Several weeks ago Democrats and some Republicans approved a budget deal that included a “continuing resolution” to keep the government open until Dec. 11 at generally current spending levels.
That agreement also established overall levels for annually appropriated (“discretionary”) spending for the next two years.
But lawmakers must still approve specific spending plans for most domestic and defense programs for the rest of Fiscal 2016 — a basic congressional responsibility that should have been completed months ago.
Until that happens, it is difficult for federal agencies to plan effectively for a fiscal year that is already nearly two months old. And if lawmakers deadlock over these appropriations, the risk of a partial government shutdown in December remains.
Republican lawmakers have expressed interest in adding policy “riders” that would, for example, roll back environmental regulations or affect the handling of Syrian refugees.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this year has repeatedly ruled out the possibility of a shutdown. New House Speaker Paul Ryan, however, said last week that Republicans would insist that the required spending legislation include some of their riders.
Lawmakers are also working to reach an agreement on a 3-year transportation bill after they passed a 2-week extension of highway and transit programs lasting until Dec. 4.
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