What It Was
To avert a government shutdown at the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 (September 30), the Senate and House both voted to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR), Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 and Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017 (H.R. 601). Simultaneously, the House began floor debate on an omnibus consisting of eight spending bills, the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, 2018 (H.R. 3354).
Why It Matters
Even if you don’t work for the government, if you receive federal grants or contracts or do any scientific travel, the shutdown of the federal government could drastically affect your work. This short-term CR will keep the government running three months into the new fiscal year as Congress strives to come to an agreement on FY 2018 federal funding.
On Friday, the president signed H.R. 601, which includes a CR to fund the government below FY 2017 levels (there was a 0.7 percent across-the-board cut) and a provision to suspend the debt limit through December 8. In light of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, the law also provides $15.25 billion in emergency appropriations for disaster relief and includes a Senate amendment extending the National Flood Insurance Program through December 8 (its authorization was set to expire September 30).
H.R. 3354 is a $1.23 trillion omnibus spending bill containing eight of the annual spending bills, including those for Commerce, Justice, and Science and Interior and the Environment. The House considered 68 of the 224 amendments ruled in order (out of more than 900 submitted). Amendments to increase funding for the National Estuary Program and to monitor and research harmful algal blooms (HABs) passed by voice vote, as did a one to support research activities and provide grants to study human health effects of HABs exposure. An amendment that would strike the provision barring use of funds to implement the National Ocean Policy failed on a nearly party line vote (189-220).
The remaining 156 amendments will be considered this week, including one to increase funding to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Ocean Science HABs program and one to increase basic research funding in the physical and biological sciences at the National Science Foundation.
“[H.R. 601] takes the threat of a shutdown and default off the table this month and will help us quickly get resources to FEMA and other agencies that are helping with rescue and recovery in the wake of Harvey and will in all likelihood be needed in the wake of Irma as well.” – Senator Charles Schumer (NY).
“I’m fond of saying that if you come to this institution on the right day, you are going to see a festival of democracy take place, right here. And today is going to be one of those days.” – Representative Rob Woodall (GA-7), with respect to the appropriations process in the House last week.
The House reconvened today to finish work on the package. If passed, it will be sent to the Senate, which is also working on its own appropriations bills.
Find Out More
Full text of H.R. 3354 (Rules Committee print)
Related Coverage From The Consortium For Ocean Leadership