In what has become a common scenario, Congress is continuing to work on a temporary budget measure to keep agencies funded, just ahead of a deadline that raises the prospect of a partial government shutdown. Votes are pending on a “continuing resolution” that generally extends current agency spending authority through April 28; the current measure, enacted just ahead of the October 1 deadline, carries funding only through midnight Friday (December 9). There is little expectation that a partial shutdown will be triggered, but such budgetary brinksmanship always raises some concern. Carrying funding only into early in the new year–rather than all the way to next September 30–will mean the new Congress and the Trump administration will have the opportunity to make policy and spending changes not achievable in the current political alignment. While earlier discussion had focused on an extension only through March, the period was lengthened out of consideration for the task ahead starting in January for the Senate, to consider the new administration’s nominees to top positions. The measure adds funds disaster relief, anti-terrorism and certain other purposes but is silent regarding a federal raise, the last congressional step toward allowing a raise in January by default.
Meanwhile, the measure would not soften an especially high increase in Medicare Part B premiums scheduled to hit certain enrollees next month, including most CSRS retirees. A House bill (HR-6428) that sponsors have been hoping that Congress will take up quickly and pass before adjourning–which could occur as soon as late this week–would set their premium at just under $126 a month rather than the $134 scheduled; the premium for most enrollees will be $109 a month.