What Needs to Happen to Avoid Another Government Shutdown

Lawmakers must approve new funding bill as Dec. 11 deadline nears.

— -- With only two weeks to go in the lame duck session, funding the federal government and avoiding another shutdown is at the top of Congress’ to-do list of time-sensitive items that must be passed before the end of the year.

“Our most important task at hand is to pass bills to fund our government to keep it from shutting down,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today.

Government funding is set to run out Dec. 11 when the continuing resolution expires, meaning lawmakers returning from Thanksgiving break must strike a deal in the next two weeks to stop a repeat of the 16-day government shutdown that occurred in 2013.

Congressional appropriators are working on a $1 trillion 12-bill omnibus that would fund the government through the end of September 2015. A senior Republican appropriations aide noted that “significant progress” was made in negotiations on the omnibus over the Thanksgiving break on such a deal.

While the House is not expected to address the issue until next week, the aide added that no decisions regarding the timing or the details of the legislation have been finalized.

But navigating the government funding debate could prove to be difficult because some conservatives are pressuring GOP leaders to tie President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration to the upcoming funding fight. Republicans have yet to craft a response to the president’s immigration decision, but could present a concrete counter-proposal in the coming weeks.

“We’ll come back from the Thanksgiving holiday and make a decision about the best way to proceed on a tactical measure,” Rep. Tom Cotton, who is also Arkansas’ senator-elect, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.

House Republicans plan to huddle Tuesday morning so members can voice their opinions on the government funding bill to House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders.