When Congress returns from its Easter recess April 24, lawmakers will have only four legislative days left to decide on a spending plan that prevents a government shutdown.
With such a narrow window, the House and Senate will have little choice but to pass a huge, omnibus spending bill and again put off a return to the regular budget process for a later day.
This prospect rankles conservatives such as Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.
“We’ve got to be able to maintain our budget,” Lankford, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, told The Daily Signal. “Just saying, ‘Whatever we did last year, let’s do that again’ is extremely inefficient, and that’s the situation where we spend the same amount of money and have less efficiency.”
But, Lankford added in a phone interview, “we still have the status quo that we’re dealing with until we can make a change.”
Unless major funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall is included in the spending package, the issue probably won’t provoke Democrats to prefer a government shutdown.
The current continuing budget resolution, which Congress passed Dec. 10, funds the government through April 28.
Justin Bogie, a senior fiscal affairs policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, said he expects Congress to pass an omnibus spending bill to keep the government running through fiscal year 2017, which ends Sept. 30.
“It’s hard to speculate on anything Congress will do, but if I were to guess, I think the most likely outcome is that we see an omnibus spending bill … that gets us through the rest of the fiscal year,” Bogie told The Daily Signal in an email.
Bogie said the funding package likely will be an omnibus, or catchall, bill set around the $1.1 trillion spending level established in 2015. He said lawmakers probably won’t pass another temporary measure, called a continuing resolution, that funds programs at current levels for a set period of weeks or months.
An omnibus spending bill throws funding for the entire government into one bill, rather than the traditional 12 separate bills for various program categories, and critics such as Lankford say this approach leads to more inefficient and wasteful spending.