What Congress Has to Do by Midnight to Avoid a Government Shutdown

PHOTO: A cyclist rides across the front plaza of the US Capitol, Nov. 4, 2014, in Washington. PlayJ. David Ake/AP Photo
WATCH Congress Looking to Make a Deal

Government funding is set to expire today at midnight, setting lawmakers on a mad dash to pass a $1.1 trillion spending measure to keep the government from shutting down.

Lawmakers Tuesday announced a spending deal nicknamed the “cromnibus,” which would fund most of the government through September of 2015, except for the Department of Homeland Security, which handles many immigration related issues. The Department of Homeland Security will be funded with a short-term continuing resolution through Feb. 27, allowing lawmakers to address President Obama’s executive action on immigration sooner than next September.

“This means no government shutdown, no government on autopilot,” Maryland Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Wednesday.

The House was slated to vote on the measure early this afternoon. But some last-minute additions to the measure have put the fate of the government at risk with some Democratic lawmakers upset about last-minute provisions, including changes in campaign finance rules and to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.

One of the loudest critics has been Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who urged her House colleagues to oppose the trillion-dollar spending measure unless a provision rolling back limits on Wall Street banks is eliminated from the package, saying the item shows “the worst of government for the rich and powerful.”

“Who does Congress work for? Does it work for the millionaires the billionaires, the giant companies with their armies of lobbyists and lawyers, or does it work for all the people?” Warren asked Wednesday.

Some Republicans are also upset with the measure because it fails to address Obama’s executive action on immigration.

But the political scars of the 2013 government shutdown are still fresh, spurring lawmakers to race to complete their votes on the funding package by midnight.

If the House approves the measure this afternoon, it will head to the Senate for a vote later today. If the Senate is unable to pass the spending package by midnight, Congress is expected to fund a short-term continuing resolution that would allow the government to stay open for a few days while votes on the bill are completed and Obama signs the measure into law.