Government Shuts Down at Midnight but is Back in Business by Breakfast

In what for many felt like a dark and stormy night, the Federal Government shut down as of midnight on February 8.  In the early hours of February 9, the Senate followed quickly by the House had a budget deal to keep the Federal Government in operation through March 23, 2018.  The vote counts were 71-28 in the Senate and 240-186 in the House.  The President signed the measure around 8:30 this morning.  The expectation is that Congress will use the time between now and March 23 to craft and pass the 12 annual appropriations bills or roll them into an Omnibus.

For the first time, Congress is looking at a two-year budget deal.  According to the latest reports, this means $80 billion in new defense spending for FY 18 and $85 billion in FY 19.  For the non-defense, discretionary accounts, $63 billion is the new FY 18 additional spending number with $68 billion marked for FY 19.

It is expected to take about six weeks for the dollars to flow to Federal Agencies.  In addition, most of the money targets specific programs; there are no ‘X%’ increases across the board.  While there is hope that STAG grants will receive at least a modest bump, no specific dollar references for EPA funding have been made, and there are no guarantees that the Agency’s funding will improve or even stay at FY 17 levels.  Those decisions remain to be seen.  A more positive opportunity seems to lie in the new $20 billion funding reservation for infrastructure that has been spoken of in terms that include, “rural water and wastewater” and “clean and safe drinking water” along with surface transportation and energy projects.  But, again, no specific details are available.

Another positive outcome from the early morning decisions is the availability of $90 billion in disaster funding for Texas, Florida, California, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.  Separate support allocations were made to several Federal Agencies such as the Corps of Engineers, NOAA, and FEMA.

ASDWA will continue to share information as it becomes available.