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Digital Subscriptions > The Hedge Fund Journal > Issue 130 – March 2018 > What’s New In Washington

What’s New In Washington

March 2018

G. HUNTER BATES, BRIAN A. POMPER, DONALD R. PONGRACE and HAL S. SHAPIRO, PARTNERS at AKIN GUMP IN WASHINGTON D.C.

Washington saw a flurry of bipartisan activity over the last few weeks. Most notably, Republican and Democratic negotiators reached a long-awaited deal on sequestration budget caps. The compromise, announced on February 7 as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA), funds the government at current levels through March 23. The BBA also raises the spending caps for Fiscal Years (FY) 2018-2019 for both defense and nondefense spending programs. Following a brief government shutdown, Congress passed the legislation on February 9, and the President signed the bill on the same day.

The measure also included a host of other provisions that:

• provided additional relief for areas of the country hit by severe weather disasters in the latter half of 2017

• Extended funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program through FY27

• raised the statutory limit on federal debt

• renewed expired health extenders, including ambulance add-on payments, the Medicaredependent hospital program and the Medicare rural add-on for home health services

• renewed expired energy tax extenders, including tax credits for fuel cells, energy efficiency, combined heat and power, and nuclear power

• renewed several expired tax extenders, including the Indian employment tax credit, railroad track maintenance tax credit and the above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition expenses.

With a budget deal in place, the appropriators have been working to finalize an omnibus spending package to fund the government past March 23 and through the end of FY18 on September 30, 2018. The House set a target date of March 16 to wrap up its work on the omnibus, with text expected to be revealed shortly before that date. If the timeline holds, this would give the Senate the entire week of March 19 to approve the measure and send it to the President to sign before government funding lapses.

Two complicating factors could pose challenges for that timeline. The first is immigration. To recap:

• In September, President Trump announced the end of the Obama-era program and gave Congress until March 5 to pass a legislative solution to the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

• Legislators failed to reach a compromise, and the debate came to a head in January when, following Senate Democrats’ objection to the lack of a DACA fix in a Continuing Resolution, the government shut down for several days.

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