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Legislative Updates

Government shuts down, reopens hours later after fifth continuing resolution

At midnight, the government shut down for the second time in three weeks, only to reopen a few hours later after Congress passed its fifth continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through March 23, 2018. The “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018,” an amendment to H.R. 1892 (an otherwise unrelated bill that’s used as a vehicle for CR passage), then went to White House where it was signed by the president, thereby reopening the government.

During intense negotiations initially on a long-term budget deal through the end of the fiscal year, letter carriers and federal employees were concerned lawmakers might use federal retirement benefits to offset significant spending increases. However, as is customary with temporary funding bills where funding levels are often continued at the same levels, there was no mention of the federal workforce or its retirement system.

The CR contains the following:

  • Raise the debt ceiling until March 1, 2019.
  • Increase discretionary spending for fiscal year (FY) 2018 by $80 billion for defense and $63 billion for nondefense.
  • Increase discretionary spending for FY2019 by $85 billion for defense and $68 billion for nondefense
  • Provide $90 billion in emergency funding for disaster relief in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas, and others.
  • Extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for 10 years
  • Include $80 billion in disaster relief funding
  • Include $7 billion in funding and a two-year reauthorization for Community Health Centers
  • Put $6 billion in funding toward opioid and mental health treatment
  • Put $4 billion toward the Veterans Administration (VA) to rebuild and improve veterans hospitals and clinics
  • Put $20 billion toward infrastructure programs

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