Congress Ends Government Shutdown, Picks Up Budget Talks

The Senate, above, passed a stopgap spending measure Monday afternoon. The House later followed, ending a government shutdown. | Ron Cogswell/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The three-day government shutdown that threatened the nation’s scientific enterprise, interrupting activities of federal science agencies, came to an end Monday evening after the Senate and House each passed a stopgap spending package to fund the government for three weeks.

Rush Holt, chief operating officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, called on Congress to continue to reach across the aisle to finalize its work on fiscal 2018 spending and resist additional short-term funding measures – the latest continuing resolution was the fourth of the current fiscal year.

“We are encouraged that policymakers worked together to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government through February 8. We hope that Congress will continue on a bipartisan path toward a final omnibus bill for fiscal year 2018 and urge members to raise the budget caps for discretionary spending, which is how the majority of federal research and development is funded,” said Holt in a statement.

“The American scientific enterprise depends on a functioning government that invests in scientific research, innovation and our economy,” he said.

The shutdown came to end after the Senate voted Monday afternoon to pass the stopgap measure following an earlier vote clearing away a procedural hurdle. The action came after leaders of both parties agreed to hold a debate on immigration policies.

The House later followed suit, clearing the measure for President Trump’s signature. Negotiations to resolve the standoff had been underway since the shutdown began early Saturday.

After the Senate’s failure to pass a short-term spending measure late Friday triggered the first government shutdown since October 2013, Holt outlined the implications on federal research and development spending. He noted that as a share of the gross national product, such funding levels have nearly reached a 40-year low and threaten the United States’ global leadership in science and innovation.

[Associated Image: MBandman/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]