Guest post by Seth Barnett, PPAI Government Relations Manager.
After a tense 16 day standoff, the federal government and its previously furloughed employees are back to work today. Late Wednesday night, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a 35-page bill that would reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling until after the first of next year. Despite opposition from Republicans insisting that a deal comes with at least a temporary hold on the Affordable Care Act, the compromise only included select line items that will help promote the newly initiated healthcare resources. In the 11th hour, House Republicans rallied their supporters to help put the government back to work and put aside healthcare consideration until the government was reopened. Now the real work begins.
The government is facing two critical deadlines in its near future. The first is that the government is funded until January 15, 2014. This means a budget deal must be reached and agreed upon by that date. If no such deal is present, then the government must pass yet another continuing resolution or face shutdown. The second date is February 7, 2014. On this day the debt ceiling limit will once again be reached. It is the hope of those in Congress that these two dates remain separate and that legislation can be passed independently of each date. However, some argue that a grand deal can simply not be reached with the current Congress. And with the midterm election one short year away, many in Congress will begin to turn their priorities elsewhere after the first of the year.
That leaves only seven weeks that Congress will be in session before they exit for the first term. Early this morning, Chairman Paul Ryan (WI-01) of the House Budget Committee and Chairwoman Patty Murray (WA-D) of the Senate Budget Committee met to discuss the plan for a joint committee budget resolution that they would like to roll out sometime this year. The two chairs stated that they will work to find compromise in both a House and Senate plan but will insist that each body have necessary inclusions before the budget is moved forward.
For now the Senate is adjourned until October 28, and the House intends to run a skeleton crew for the next week. Only time will tell if a grand deal is possible and what it may include. To stay updated, check back with PPAI at www.ppai.org/lawnews and follow PPAI LAW on twitter for up-to-the-minute coverage @PPAILAW.