President Trump Jan. 25 announced that a deal has been reached with congressional leaders to fund the government through Feb. 15. The agreement would extend current funding levels and includes back pay for all furloughed federal employees. The President stated a bipartisan congressional conference committee will be tasked to strike a deal on border security and if no deal is reached by Feb. 15, he will declare a national emergency to fund the border wall.
Shortly before the President’s announcement, the House and Senate failed to pass multiple bills to end the government shutdown, which started when appropriations expired Dec. 21, 2018. The Senate Jan. 24 voted on two measures to fund the federal government. The End the Shutdown and Secure the Border Act (S.Amdt. 5 to H.R. 268), which was supported by President Trump, includes DACA and immigration reforms in exchange for $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall [see related story]. The Senate also voted on a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through Feb. 8 (S.Amdt 6 to H.R. 268). Both measures failed to garner the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Jan. 23 passed a CR for all unfunded agencies, excluding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through Sept. 30 (H.R. 648). The House Jan. 24 separately passed funding for DHS that includes $5.7 billion in border protection, which cannot be used for a border wall (H.J. Res 31). The House Jan. 23 also passed a CR for the unfunded federal agencies and Cabinet departments through Feb. 28 (H.J. Res. 28) [see Washington Highlights, Jan. 18, 2018].
The AAMC Jan. 23 joined a Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) letter to President Trump and Congressional leaders, urging an end to the government shutdown and citing its effects on the nation’s scientific enterprise, and in particular to the National Science Foundation (NSF). While most agencies and programs within the Department of Health and Human Services are not affected by the shutdown, the NSF, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and other science-related programs fall under the jurisdiction of different spending bills that have not yet been completed, leading to their closure.
In the letter, the 125 CNSF signatories wrote, “A government shutdown greatly impedes the agency’s ability to make funding decisions, suspends new and ongoing research projects and slows the development of training the next generation of scientists and engineers. If the government shutdown continues it will have a cascading effect on the nation’s security and economy, endangering years of critical investments.”