Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Congress funds government through January 19, adjourns for holidays

Before departing for the holidays, Congress was able to avoid a government shutdown by approving a funding bill (H.R. 1370) to keep the government open through January 19, 2018.

The spending bill includes continued funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through March 31, $2.1 billion for the Veterans Choice program, a private care access program for veterans. In addition, the measure included reauthorization of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act until January 19 and $4 billion for missile defense, $700 million for Navy ship repairs and coast guard continuation pay. The measure also addresses Indian Health Service, undocumented immigrants and influenza epidemic preparations.

With regards to tax reform, the bill also provides a waiver of PAYGO rules for the tax reform bill to prevent $150 billion per year in cuts to mandatory spending programs.

Following much pressure from Democrats, action was deferred on finding a solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and language to shore up underfunded pension plans for coal miners.

After passage of the CR in the House, a separate measure providing $81 billion in supplemental relief for states and territories recovering from hurricanes and wildfires was also passed; however, Senate leadership refused to take up the measure before the holidays instead choosing to adjourn and delay action on the issue.

When Congress returns January 3, it will have to address the issue and immediately turn its attention to reaching a deal on long-term spending and budget caps. Letter carriers should remain on alert for a busy January.

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