- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2018

Congress is hoping to pass nine of the 12 annual appropriations bills for 2019 before Oct. 1 — and plans to fund the remaining departments at current-year levels through Dec. 7 to avoid a partial shutdown when funding expires at the end of the month.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen announced the time frame for the short-term “continuing resolution” as he helped kick off a Thursday meeting of lawmakers negotiating a two-bill package that funds the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education through Sept. 30, 2019.

Lawmakers combined the two most expensive single bills into a massive package totaling close to two-thirds of the government’s discretionary budget for next year.

That move gives most Republicans and Democrats at least something to like, whether it’s more money for the military or a boost in funding for domestic programs.

They also plan to attach the stopgap funding for whatever they don’t pass to the Defense-Labor-HHS-Education package.

“The president will have to sign it into law or shut down the government, since it contains the continuing resolution,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat.

The Senate on Wednesday passed a three-bill, $147 billion package that funds programs in energy, water infrastructure, veterans affairs, military construction, and the legislative branch for next year.

The House is expected to pass the same bill Thursday before heading out of town as Hurricane Florence approaches the east coast.

Lawmakers also hope to pass a four-bill package funding programs in agriculture, the environment, financial services and transportation this month.

Combined, those nine bills total about 90 percent of the discretionary budget for fiscal 2019.

The three outstanding bills lawmakers have conceded will require stopgap funding cover programs in homeland security, commerce, justice, science, and state/foreign operations.

Kicking those bills past November would push some of the most contentious items — like funding for President Trump’s desired U.S.-Mexico border wall in the homeland security funding bill — past the midterm campaigning season.

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