We're five days away from another possible government shutdown.
Budget but no spending plan: The budget agreed to at the end of October established a framework for expenditures through October 2017. Congress, however, still must allocate the actual dollars for Uncle Sam's operations so he can operate past Dec. 11, the day that the latest continuing resolution expires.
UPDATE: Congress passed another short-term continuing resolution to fund the federal government through Wednesday, Dec. 16.
Representatives and Senators have been meeting to work out funding for at least the 2016 fiscal year, through next September, but with the deadline four days away, Republicans and Democrats haven't struck a deal.
Complicating things are several contentious, and not strictly fiscal, policy riders.
In previous shutdowns, hardline lawmakers have used (or tried to) the appropriations process to achieve such political goals as eliminating Obamacare, or at least the Cadillac tax on high-cost insurance plans, and cutting funding for Planned Parenthood. Those are still hot-button items.
But added to the mix now due to tragic recent events are questions of how to fight ISIS/ISIL, Syrian refugee relocation in the United States and the perennial issue of gun control. Some lawmakers could tie up a spending bill in order to make political points on these matters.
Plus, there's the possibility/probability that lawmakers also will try to attach an extenders package -- the 50+ tax breaks that expired at the end of 2014 and are still being hammered out separately -- to the eventual omnibus spending bill.
So, yes, Congress has a lot to deal with this week. There's still hope the work can be completed by Dec. 11. But just in case, be ready.
Pearl Harbor remembrance: Today commemorates the Dec. 7, 1941, surprise attack by Japan fighter pilots on the U.S.S. Arizona as it was stationed at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii.
When the federal government shut down for 16 days two years ago, service members stationed in Hawaii took care of the memorial. A group of service members and their families spontaneously gathered to tend the site, taking care of raking, weeding and mowing overgrown grass.
They said their message to all veterans was, "We haven't forgotten about you. We will not forget about you."
Congress needs to pay attention to those dedicated former members of the military. They did their duty and beyond.
Our lawmakers need to follow that example, on this solemn day and every day.
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