Last week, the Senate passed its first package of appropriations bills, H.R. 3055, the Commerce, Justice, Science, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, Interior, Environment, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, 2020 (also referred to as Minibus II). The bill includes funding for several NTEU-represented agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, Patent and Trademark Office, Environmental Protection Agency and National Park Service and is an important step forward to make sure these agencies have adequate full-year funding and do not suffer a shutdown. However, the Senate was unable, once again, to pass a motion to proceed to consideration of H.R. 2740, the Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Energy and Water, and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, 2020 (also referred to as Minibus I) due to disagreements over funding levels for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education programs and the possibility of defense funding being diverted to border security. The SEC's budget has not been passed.
With significant differences remaining, congressional and White House staff met to discuss government funding and the path forward as only weeks remain until the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on November 21, 2019. Congressional leaders are backing another stopgap bill extending the CR into December, with an eye towards a year-end wrap up. However, top appropriators have been pushing for a CR into February or March due to the number of issues that still need to be resolved and concerns about how the impeachment proceedings could impact the resolution of spending disputes. Nonetheless, there is a fear that pushing the deadline into the new year increases the odds that Congress defaults to a year-long CR at fiscal year 2019 spending levels, which would be about $50 billion lower than the budget deal allows for fiscal year 2020. A later deadline would also push the funding dispute into the middle of a presidential election. It would also have a significant negative impact upon SEC management's willingness to fund our pay raise, even as the agency continues to hire new employees.
NTEU is actively working with members of Congress and urging them to properly fund federal agencies, provide employees with a fair pay raise, protect their collective bargaining rights, and avoid another disastrous shutdown.