Shutdown Ends; Legislators Seek Common Ground to Keep Government Open; Congressional Committee Assignments Finalized
On January 25, Congress and the White House reached an agreement to end the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The 35-day impasse ended when the President signed a continuing resolution (CR) that reopened the affected departments and agencies at their fiscal year (FY) 2018 funding levels.
The agreement allows government agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to resume operations. Furloughed employees can now return to work and funding that was cut off during the shutdown can be distributed. However, many activities including grant review panels have been postponed, and it will take considerable time for affected agencies to return to normal operations. Both NSF and USDA have posted more detailed information on their websites about post-shutdown logistics.
The CR is only a temporary reprieve, funding the government until February 15. In the meantime, a bicameral conference committee is charged with negotiating a Homeland Security appropriations bill, including border security measures. Despite the President’s continued insistence on funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the committee hopes to reach an agreement that will satisfy the White House and pave the way for Congress to finalize FY 2019 appropriations.
The committee undertaking spending negotiations will be led by Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL), Senate Appropriations Vice Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT), House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY), and House Appropriations Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX). Other committee members are Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Hoeven (R-ND), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Jon Tester (D-MT), and Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), David Price (D-NC), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), Tom Graves (R-GA), and Steven Palazzo (R-MS).
Despite the shutdown, the new Congress has moved forward and finalized several committee rosters: the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) has also announced Appropriations Subcommittee rosters for Democrats.