Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said she believes Congress will pass a spending bill in time time to avoid a government shutdown. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Despite time coming down to the wire for Congress to pass the spending bill necessary to avert another government shutdown, members say they are confident the legislation will make it through both chambers.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., told reporters Monday she and her counterpart in the House, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., "have come to closure" in negotiations for the $1 trillion spending bill. She said there were other issues with the bill but those were currently being discussed by Senate and House leadership from both parties.
"When those are resolved we'll file the bill and be ready to go," she said. "I believe we will not a have a shutdown."
The bill would fund the government through September of next year with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security, which will run out of funding in early 2015.
Republicans and Democrats are battling over the funding of agencies that would see to the implementation of President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration which would shield 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Republicans hope by limiting DHS funding, they will be able to overturn the action once they seize control of the House and the Senate in January.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has been leading the fight on immigration on the far right, has been pushing for a shutdown if the agencies are not defunded. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., however, said his colleague in the Senate does not have the votes.
"No, I don't think he's got the votes for this. There'll be bipartisan support for this. There'll be bipartisan opposition," said Cole. "There's some Democrats that are very concerned about some of the authorization for Syria operations. There's always folks on the right that are concerned that any bill, even though this meets the Ryan budget goals, they would prefer to spend less. I get that, but at the end of the day I think the votes are there, the agreements have been made, and it's very bipartisan because remember, the Democrats still control the United States Senate."
If the government shutdown does occur, several things will happen. "Non-essential" government workers will be sent home on unpaid leave, or furloughed. Although it is forced unpaid leave, the workers are usually paid retroactively for their time off, thus eliminating the economic advantage.
Agencies that do not rely heavily on Congress for funding are expected to feel minimal impact. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is expected to implement Obama's executive order on immigration and has 95 percent of its budget coming from fees, will not be heavily affected by a shutdown. This exemption likely circumvents the GOP hardliners' strategy to stop Obama's immigration actions from being executed.
Personnel traditionally exempted from furloughs include those who process Social Security payments, operate federal prisons, patrol the U.S. border and serve in the military.
The national parks and monuments would close and no tourists would be able to access them as a result of a shutdown.