Stopgap Spending Bill Keeps U.S. Government Running Through December 20

As expected, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a short-term spending bill on the evening of November 21 to avoid a government shutdown.  The continuing resolution (CR) funds the federal government at FY19 levels through December 20.  The 2020 fiscal year began on October 1, but Congress has been unable to pass FY20 appropriations bills, largely due to disagreements over border wall funding.  A previous CR kept the government running through November 21.  The House and Senate passed the new stopgap spending bill earlier this week.

In reality, lawmakers have already agreed on topline funding levels for both FY20 and FY21.  Those funding levels are outlined in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 and modify spending limits in order to bolster both domestic and defense spending.  The deal stipulated that lawmakers would avoid any poison pill amendments during budget markups, but unfortunately, the reality of politics ultimately derailed budget negotiations.

Lawmakers hope the new CR will provide enough time to finalize FY20 appropriations bills.  If they fail to do so, another CR will be required to keep the government running.  The military has become adept at navigating short-term CRs, but long-term CRs are extremely disruptive.  They prevent new-start programs from receiving funding and require countless workarounds to keep programs properly funded.  For its part, the Pentagon has been urging lawmakers to avoid any long-term CRs that would freeze funding at FY19 levels for six months or even an entire year.

About Shaun McDougall

Shaun McDougall is an analyst at Forecast International covering the U.S. and Canadian defense markets.

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