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Congress Returns for Lame Duck Session; Government Funding Deadline Threatens Partial Shutdown

  • May 13, 2019

Lawmakers returned to Washington this week for their post-election “lame duck” session, facing a Dec. 7 government funding deadline that threatens a partial government shutdown.

Lawmakers returned to Washington this week for their post-election “lame duck” session, facing a Dec. 7 government funding deadline that threatens a partial government shutdown.

  • Seven FY2019 spending bills await congressional action by next Friday to fund the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, and several smaller agencies.  If Congress and President Trump do not reach agreement on an appropriations package for the fiscal year, these departments and agencies may be subject to a partial government shutdown or another short-term extension. Several immigration programs, including the EB-5 investment program, also face expiration on Dec. 7.   (USA Today, Nov. 28)  
  • A key issue in the funding negotiations is construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.  President Trump said he would "totally be willing" to shut down the federal government if $5 billion is not approved for the wall by Congress during a Nov. 28 Oval Office interview with Politico.  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other Democratic leaders have pledged $1.6 billion for border security.  (The Hill, Nov. 29)
  • The lame-duck session could be the final opportunity for Republicans to pass significant funding for the wall, as Democrats will reclaim the House majority in January.   
  • A government program scheduled to expire today – the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) – was extended yesterday by Congress for the seventh time in 12 months.  The NFIP extension will also expire Dec. 7 unless Congress attaches a longer-term flood insurance extension to a spending bill, or passes another continuing resolution. (BGov, Nov. 30) 
  • The Real Estate Roundtable and 14 other industry groups urged Congress in a June 12, 2017 comment letterto reauthorize and reform the NFIP to help protect the nation’s commercial and multifamily business-owners, their properties, residents, and the jobs they create from the financial perils of flooding.  (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 14, 2018)

    The Roundtable is also part of a coalition advocating for the reauthorization of the Brand USA program – a public-private partnership that markets the United States as a travel destination to international travelers.

  • Legislation is needed to ensure that international visitor fees funding the program will not be diverted to the Treasury Department, as currently scheduled. The fee assessed on international travelers coming to the U.S. is matched 1:1 by funds from the private sector travel industry.  The letter states, “Without this funding, private sector partners of Brand USA are limited, and in some cases deterred, from marketing to highly valued international travelers.”  (VisitU.S. Coalition letter, Nov. 30)  
  • Brand USA is estimated to have generated international visitor spending since FY2013 that produced $486 million in federal tax revenue, and another $526 million in state and local tax revenue. (Return On Investment Analysis, Oxford Economics)

Lawmakers are scheduled to stay in session until Dec. 14 to close out the 115th Congress.