A tentative agreement began to emerge on Thursday for $1.3 trillion in federal spending for 2020 that would avert another shutdown, but President Trump has not said he would sign it, the same border wall funding question that triggered the last partial shutdown remains, and Congress faces a vote on impeachment as well as North American trade next week.
The chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Nita Lowey, D-NY, said that House and Senate negotiators had a deal in principle hammered out for all 12 spending bills to fully fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. Still, none of the regular appropriations have been enacted and the government is reaching the end of the second temporary funding extension, which ends December 20—possibly, but not necessarily, when Congress will recess through the holidays.
The lack of movement on those bills, either individually or as one or more packages, has led to speculation about further temporary extensions into February or March or even one lasting through the rest of the budget year ending next September 30.
Temporary extensions generally continue programs and funding unchanged with some exceptions. That practice is criticized as wasteful and inefficient, but no clear path toward providing regular appropriations has yet emerged in the three weeks since the most recent extension was enacted.
Meanwhile, there have been several developments in the court system related to past shutdowns. A federal district court heard arguments in a case brought by the NTEU union challenging the practice of ordering some employees to work during a shutdown as contrary to the Antideficiency Act. That suit is still in its preliminary stages, however, and no action by the court is expected in time to affect any shutdown that may lie just ahead.
A separate case in a different court involves a claim for back pay related to the October 2013 shutdown. The court ruled in 2017 that the government violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying overtime-eligible employees who continued working at least the minimum wage during that time. A new filing shows that about 22,000 employees would stand to benefit from such payments. The amounts are still undetermined, as is when such payments might be made. Similar suits related to the most recent shutdown are pending.