Fedweek

With a veto threat against the annual general government appropriations bill—the key spending measure on federal workforce issues—the Trump administration has now made such a threat against all of the spending bills to advance so far in Congress, adding to concerns of repeating the kind of budgetary gridlock that triggers partial government shutdowns.

The White House had previously threatened vetoes of two separate packages of spending bills progressing through the House, which together contain nine of the 12 regular spending bills for the fiscal year that begins in October. Among their provisions are moves to block planned reorganizations at Interior and Agriculture and a shift of some job corps centers from Agriculture to Labor, which would then privatize many of them at the cost of more than 1,000 federal jobs (the last of which the administration recently dropped).

ADVERTISEMENT


One of the other two spending bills not yet before the full House funds Congress itself, and the other funds DHS—which has become the most contentious of the bills because it affects immigration policies.

The Senate has not started writing its own versions of the appropriations bills, leaving that task until after next week’s recess. Congress then might work as few as three more weeks before recessing through Labor Day.

Despite the potential for another deadlock of the sort that caused the month-long partial shutdown over late December-late January, the White House has said it is confident that there will not be a repeat. However, there currently is no clear path toward resolving the numerous spending and policy differences by the time current funding authority expires at the end of September.

An agreement would be complicated by the need to raise the federal debt ceiling around the same time, as well as the need to either lift spending limits imposed by an earlier agreement or to reduce planned spending to stay within those limits.