Fedweek

Updated: President Trump this week signed into law an appropriations bill covering the VA and related agencies, the legislative branch, the Energy Department, and several components of Interior and Defense including the Army Corps of Engineers. Those agencies are now funded through the new budget year, fiscal 2019, and do not face the threat of a partial shutdown from a funding lapse.

On Friday he also signed a second bill that funds the remainder of DoD, along with Labor, Education, most of HHS, SSA, and related agencies. That bill provides full-year funding for those agencies while also extending funding, generally at current levels, through December 7 for agencies not in one of those two bills.

The outcome had been in doubt – and Trump called the second bill “ridiculous” – mainly due to disagreements over funding for a border wall; the bill, which contains no such funds, was the last available to the administration to use as leverage on that issue before the elections.

However, there there was also pressure to have the bill enacted on time, not only to prevent a partial government shutdown but because it would complete full-year funding for DoD—a separate annual authorization bill already has become law—on time and before the elections.

A third combined bill, still in a House-Senate conference, would cover the rest of Interior along with financial regulatory agencies, central agencies such as OPM, GSA, OMB and FLRA, the IRS, Agriculture, Transportation, HUD and related agencies.

That measure further will serve as the vehicle for a decision on a federal pay raise for January. Indications so far are that a 1.9 percent raise advocated by the Senate stands a good chance of acceptance but that decision won’t be finalized until the conference concludes.

Even if that conference were to conclude soon, it is uncertain whether that bill could reach final voting in the two weeks remaining before the planned congressional recess through the elections. A delay would leave it to the post-election session along with departments and agencies whose budgets have not advanced even to a conference. Those include DHS, Commerce, Justice and science-related agencies, and State and foreign operations-related agencies.