Early Thursday, both houses of Congress passed a short-term spending bill that would extend the EB-5 regional center program and other immigration programs requiring reauthorization to December 21, 2018. The House and Senate passed the legislation by voice vote after cancelling roll call votes this week, affected by the State funeral and National Day of Mourning for President George H.W. Bush. The bill is now being sent to President Trump for his signature.
House Joint Resolution 143, otherwise known as “Making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2019, and for other purposes” serves to simply replace the current shutdown date of underlying legislation from December 7, 2018 to a new date of December 21, 2018. All affected programs, including the EB-5 Regional Center Program, are to be continued as currently constituted through to this date.
One item however remains the same, that beyond this period, uncertainty pervades.
In a speech on Monday of this week, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell noted that although Republicans control Washington, Democrats are "not irrelevant," when it comes to passing any spending bill. The reality facing Republicans, still controlling both Houses of Congress in this lame duck session of Congress, is that any spending deal or extension *must* have Democratic votes to pass in the Senate, where a 60-vote threshold stands to move anything forward and Republicans currently control 51 seats. In the House, the Democratic minority has been needed for years for GOP leaders to get any spending agreement across the finish line, due to internal divisions.
A major sticking point in the next two weeks will be issues relating to the funding (or lack thereof) of President’s Trump’s planned Southern border wall. Pushing the shutdown deadline right up to Christmas certainly doesn't make anyone on Capitol Hill happy, but it does create another pressure point to provide an extension well into the next Congressional term. In our opinion, however, if recent history provides any indication, another short-term bill, potentially for only a matter of months, is likely to follow.