Legislative Alerts


Government Shutdown Ends

October 17,2013

Last night, Congress passed legislation that immediately reopens the federal government and suspends the debt limit, in turn averting a breach of the debt ceiling. The legislation cleared the Senate by a vote of 81 to 18, passed the House by 285 to 144, and was immediately signed into law by the president. 

The law funds the government at the current FY 2013 sequester level of $986 billion through Jan. 15, 2014, which locks in the lower funding levels for the first part of the year. The bill suspends the debt limit until Feb. 7, 2014. States that used state or other non-federal funds to continue federal programs during the shutdown will be reimbursed for expenses that the federal government would have covered. State employees whose jobs are federally funded and were furloughed will also be compensated.

While the overall deal between Senate leaders included an agreement to appoint conferees in the House and Senate to meet on their versions of the budget resolution, that language did not appear in the legislation, and is instead being handled through separate instructions that will be set forth in both the House and Senate. The budget conferees are to discuss real, tangible ways to cut spending and increase revenue, as well as the possibility of avoiding sequestration moving into FY 2014 and beyond. They are to report back to their respective chambers in mid-December. 

While it may take a little time to get all federal agencies back online, states should expect the federal government to be functioning normally by week's end, or early next week at the latest.