Funding Countdown Continues with No Clear Direction

Next Thursday, December 11th, is the last date by which Congress can vote to fund Federal agencies and programs in FY 2015 before the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires.  If no decision is made by midnight on the 11th, the government shuts down…again.

As of this writing, it looks like mainstream House Republicans may need to turn to Democrats to support a hybrid government funding plan known as the “cromnibus” by next week, given escalating opposition by the more polarized conservative GOP members.  A ‘cromnibus’ is a word-play mash up of CR and Omnibus.  As proposed, it would fully fund 11 of the 12 appropriations measures through the end of this fiscal year (this is the omnibus portion of the term) while separating funding for the Department of Homeland Security into a three month continuing resolution (the CR piece).  This approach is designed to avoid a government shutdown while still expressing opposition to the President’s recent executive order on immigration.

House conservatives have signaled opposition to a cromnibus approach and prefer attaching a rider to a straightforward Omnibus bill that would ban any funding for implementation of the executive order.  Such an approach, even if it would pass the Senate, would likely be vetoed by the President, thereby causing the government to cease operations.

Across the Capitol, in the Senate, the Democrat majority seems to be reasonably open to the cromnibus approach.  Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) has signaled that the cromnibus may open the door to some compromise.  Senate Democrats suggest that support for a cromnibus may be preferable to another shorter term CR because it gives them a bit more leverage than they will have once the new Republican led Senate convenes next year.