This bill was one of many attempts by House Democrats to end the partial government shutdown without funding for a southern border wall. The bill would provide funding for emergency disaster relief for the rest of fiscal year 2019 (through September), in addition to reopening the agencies whose funding lapsed at the start of the partial government shutdown until February 8, 2019 (a so called “continuing resolution”).
House Democrats issued a press release on passage of the bill. The release explains the rationale for the bill and the proposed distribution of $14.17 billion in emergency disaster relief funding.
On December 22, 2018 the 115th Congress was unable to reach a deal to fund some federal agencies through fiscal year 2019 after President Trump demanded $5 billion in funding for a southern border wall. The Senate had unanimously passed a bill to fund the government through 2019, without the border wall, the then Republican-controlled House amended the bill adding $5 billion in funding for a southern border wall. The Senate neglected to vote on that bill leaving it to die in the previous Congress. When funding lapsed for the USDA, FDA, and Departments of Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Interior, Environment, State, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, the partial government shutdown began.
When the 116th Congress began in 2019, Democrats took control of the House. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made it clear that the House does not plan to approve funding for the border wall in any future appropriations bills. As of January 24, House Democrats have passed ten different bills that would completely or partially reopen the federal government. Only H.R. 268 has been considered by the Senate, where Republican and Democratic amendments to the bill both failed.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jan 16, 2019.
Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019
This bill provides FY2019 appropriations to federal agencies, including supplemental appropriations for disaster assistance and continuing appropriations for agencies that are included in the seven FY2019 appropriations bills that have not been enacted.
The bill provides $14.2 billion in FY2019 supplemental appropriations for expenses related to the consequences of recent wildfires, hurricanes, volcanos, earthquakes, typhoons, and other natural disasters. The bill designates the spending as emergency spending, which is exempt from discretionary spending limits.
The bill includes supplemental appropriations for
the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Service, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, the Department of Education, the Government Accountability Office, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The bill also provides continuing FY2019 appropriations to several federal agencies through the earlier of February 8, 2019, or the enactment of the applicable appropriations legislation.
This is known as a continuing resolution (CR) and ends the partial government shutdown that began after the existing CR expired on December 21, 2018, because seven of the remaining FY2019 appropriations bills have not been enacted.
(Five of the FY2019 appropriations bills were enacted last year, including the
Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2019; the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019; the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019; the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2019; and the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019.) Additionally, the CR has the effect of extending through February 8, 2019, several authorities and programs that were extended in prior CRs, including
the Violence Against Women Act, the authority for the Environmental Protection Agency to collect and spend certain fees related to pesticides, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, and several authorities related to immigration.