From a friend of Chapter 280.....
As feared, House leaders today kept their promise to conservatives and defense hawks by releasing a strange cromnibus (combination of CR & Omnibus) designed keep the federal government operating after December 22nd and provide full-year FY 2018 funding only for the military. This bill is H.J. Res. 124 (113).
This bill provides the full defense increase for all of FY 2018 as authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill Trump just signed, but only five weeks of current level funding for non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs. Under this bill, NDD funding will expire January 21st.
Sen. Schumer has sent a letter to McConnell signed by all Democratic Senators except four - McCaskill, Manchin, Donnely, and Huelskamp - indicating opposition to and intention to vote againstsuch a measure. These four are the most vulnerable Dems facing re-election in red states next year.
House conservatives and defense hawks are convinced that Senate Dems will be forced to accept this spending bill and will give up their demand for parity. Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and hurricane/wildfire emergency aid will be included in this strange continuing resolution (CR), making a "no" vote very difficult.
McConnell knows this House Republican strategy is problematic but seems willing to force the issue and put this bill to a vote in the Senate next week. House Republicans have "had it" with the Senate, and are discounting all McConnell claims that this strategy might cause a shutdown.
McConnell and Senate appropriators appear to be working on a Plan B in case this CR fails. In contrast, House leaders and conservatives have lost all interest in discussing a Plan B, at least for now. They are convinced Dems will be blamed for any shutdown, but don't think that will happen. They expect Dem capitulation. They point out that some Senate Dems support the military increase, and may not be willing to vote against it.
As of tonight, it looks like future science funding will depend on whether four more Dem Senators cave in and accept that defense-only CR legislation. So far, no Republicans have come out against this bill.
To further complicate negotiations, Sen. Brown of Ohio and several other Senate Dems are insisting that some fix for the pension program for miners, food service workers, and Teamsters be included in any fiscal agreement.
Dem demands for resolution of the DACA issue also continue, but are being ignored by Republicans in both chambers because action on this issue is not necessary until March. The pension shortfall problem being raised by Sen. Brown won't manifest in lower paychecks to retirees until spring.
Schumer insists that negotiations are continuing and that the $200 billion 2-year deal is still alive. However, it looks like only after this cromnibus goes down to defeat will the White House and Republican appropriators seriously consider any plan to increase NDD spending.
I am getting concerned that the $200 billion 2-year deal, if agreed to, could increase defense far more than it increases NDD. The NDAA calls for an additional $80 billion for FY 2018 over the BCA caps. If NDD gets parity and its $80 billion for FY 2018, that leaves only $40 billion for both defense and NDD increases for FY 2019. That is not enough to keep the defense expansion going, even if the Pentagon were to get the entire remaining $40 billion.
It looks like conferees are closer to an agreement on a tax reform bill. Last night's outcome in Alabama has sharpened Republican determination to get that legislation enacted before Doug Jones gets sworn in.