, 22 Jan 2018

The US House of Representatives voted 266-150 to pass the spending bill to fund the government until Feb. 8, 2018.

The three-day government shutdown was ending Monday with yet another stopgap spending deal that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the Joint Chiefs maintain will wreak havoc on the military.

“As hard as the last 16 years have been, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of the U.S. military than the combined impact of the Budget Control Act, defense spending cuts and operating in nine of the last 10 years under continuing resolutions,” Mattis said last Friday in outlining the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy.

However, a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded to Feb. 8 at 2017 spending levels was what the Senate passed Monday afternoon to break the standoff between Republicans and Democrats on immigration reform and other issues.

The House was expected to follow suit to reopen the government.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump would quickly sign the CR and she expected the government to be back running at “full capacity” by Tuesday morning.

Sanders read a statement from Trump saying, “I am pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses and are now willing to fund our great military, Border Patrol, first responders, and insurance for vulnerable children.”

The children he referred to are those covered by the proposed six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for low-income families who do not qualify for Medicaid.

Trump added, “As I have always said, once the government is funded, my administration will work toward solving the problem of very unfair illegal immigration. We will make a long-term deal on immigration if, and only if, it is good for our country.”

Earlier, in a Senate floor speech, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said, “We will vote today to reopen the government.”

The vote was 81-18 to end what Republicans called the “Schumer shutdown” and what Democrats called the “Trump shutdown.”

Schumer said he had a “commitment” from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, to have a future vote on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for an estimated 800,000 undocumented adults brought to the U.S. as minors, but other Democrats questioned whether McConnell would follow through.

At the White House, Sanders said that ending chain migration and the visa lottery and building the border wall would have to be part of any agreement on DACA.

Under Trump’s previous action rescinding DACA, protections for the so-called “Dreamers” would end in early March. When asked if the Dreamers would be deported, Sanders said, “We’re hopeful that we don’t have to do that.”

During the three-day shutdown, Trump repeatedly warned of the “devastating” impacts on the military from the failure to pass a fiscal 2018 budget to fund the Defense Department at nearly $700 billion.

In the much-used cliché, the CR again had the effect of “kicking the can down the road” on Mattis’ requests for funding to boost readiness, acquire new weapons systems, continue the war against the Islamic State, bolster NATO to counter Russia, modernize the nuclear deterrent, and provide for adequate planning on future threats.

The CR Congress was acting upon Monday was the fourth since it failed to meet the Oct. 1 deadline for enacting a fiscal 2018 budget.

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan described to Pentagon reporters last month the long-term problems caused by a succession of CRs when Congress enacted a third one to avoid a shutdown Dec. 21.

“Let’s say you were having to do more but someone said, ‘You have to operate at the budget you had last year,’ ” he said.

“You’re just going to defer as many choices as you can — whether it’s military construction, maintenance. You just kick the can down the road on as many of those things. If you don’t have the money, you have to find a workaround. That’s a fact of life. It’s painful,” Shanahan said.

The third day of the shutdown began with the onset of massive furloughs at the Defense Department and left pay issues on hold.

During the shutdown, service members were still required to report for duty, although they were officially not getting paid.

Training for Guard and Reserve personnel was mostly canceled, commissaries were closing, and outpatient care at base facilities was being postponed.

According to Mattis, about half of the DoD’s civilian workforce of more than 750,000 faced furloughs if the shutdown continued.

The CR’s passage means the shutdown’s effects will be reversed, at least until Feb. 8.