Members of Congress returned from their holiday recess this week to a government funded under yet another stop-gap measure that is set to expire on January 19. Fiscal year (FY) 2018 started October 1 and Congress has yet to pass any appropriation bills for the year. Before any of the proposed legislation can be sent to the President’s desk, Congress must come to an agreement on the top-line spending levels allowed by law. These budget caps will decrease in FY 2018 under the Budget Control Act through sequestration, unless Congress passes a deal to increase the spending levels.
The renewed focus on government funding comes after Congressional Republicans passed their much-anticipated tax cut before the winter holidays. While the final tax bill did not include problematic proposed provisions to classify graduate student tuition waivers as taxable income, the tax plan would still add an estimated trillion dollars to the federal deficit over the next decade, which would likely lead to significant cuts to non-defense discretionary funding down the line, including federal research programs.