Monday, January 8, 2018

U.S. government "shutdown" looming in January

No Christmas shutdown – but Congress faces same crisis next month: 'It's maddening' | Fox News - Chad Pergram, Capital Attitude:

December 22, 2017 - "Lawmakers dashed out of Washington Thursday night after approving a short-term bill to run the government through Jan. 19. December was supposed to be an epic month on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers expected brawls over a host of seemingly intractable issues like military funding, disaster aid and DACA. Then there was the GOP aim to finish tax reform.

"The tax bill was the easy part. Republicans wrapped that with relative ease on Wednesday – and proceeded to shelve virtually every major issue until January....

"Did the holiday spirit simply prevail on lawmakers? Or, basking in the afterglow of tax reform, did Republicans simply come to their senses and realize it wasn’t a good idea to mess with a government shutdown at Christmas?

"But in the end, Democrats wanted to ditch Washington too. Democrats noted that the GOP controls both the House and Senate. If Republicans managed to discombobulate their tax reform victory by stumbling into a government shutdown around the holidays, fine. But if Republicans got their act together, Democrats knew the issues wouldn’t dissolve over the break. Democrats would hold even more leverage in January. Plus, Democrats thought they could force the president’s hand on a number of subjects just days before the State of the Union speech on Jan. 30.....

"Many conservatives with libertarian leanings were upset about attaching a temporary reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to the spending bill. Defenders of FISA consider the program a key tool in disrupting terrorism plots. But some lawmakers fear the operation could lead to spying on Americans without a warrant....

"Members of the Freedom Caucus abhorred the idea of re-upping FISA just to keep the government’s lights on. 'We want to change FISA,' said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., a Freedom Caucus member. 'We don’t want it on the CR (Continuing Resolution, which is shorthand for the spending bill)'....

"Things may even be harder come 2018. On Jan. 3, the Senate’s will swear in its newest members..... Sen.-elect Doug Jones, D-Ala., is prepared to take the seat of Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., after last week’s special election.

"In 2017, Republicans enjoyed a 52-48 edge in the Senate. That narrows to 51-49 ... in January."

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