On January 22, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives passed a temporary government funding bill, or continuing resolution (CR), to fund the federal government through February 8. President Trump signed the legislation, soon after officially ending the shutdown, which lasted just under three days.
A breakthrough in negotiations was made after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to allow a floor vote on immigration legislation in February. House leadership, however, has not yet indicated whether it would follow suit.
Central to the shutdown was insistence that legislation be forged that would have clarified the current DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) policy before its expiration on March 6th, a date set forth by President Trump in September 2017. The current DACA provisions, established by an Executive Order signed by former President Barack Obama, provided certain legal protections for those who came to the United States as children with their parents, including a shield from deportation. Leader McConnell’s assurance that a bill addressing DACA would come to the Senate floor for debate paved the way for a shutdown-ending vote, which passed with bipartisan support 81-18.
In addition to a forthcoming vote on the DACA program, the funding measure also includes a six-year funding extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health benefits to children in families with incomes too high for Medicaid but who are unable to afford private insurance. The program expired on September 30, 2017, and as many as 20 states would have exhausted CHIP funds in 2018. The final agreement also further delayed the so-called Cadillac Tax, an excise tax on high-value health insurance plans until 2022, protecting counties from potentially large costs on their employer-sponsored health plans.
NACo will continue to monitor the appropriations and budget process. With only a three-week extension in play, it is imperative that our legislators know the importance of uninterrupted and reliable federal funding for important programs that provide vital and life-saving services for residents across the country.