A Government Shutdown Could Be In The Making

Friday, December 9, 2016
By Paul Martin


The clock is ticking for the Senate to pass stop-gap spending measures if they want to dodge a looming government shutdown, since current funding levels expire Dec. 9. But two Senate Democrats may draw the process out past deadline in an attempt to get Republicans to extend healthcare and pension benefits for retired coal miners.

The House overwhelmingly passed its continuing resolution Thursday to keep the government funded through April 28, which would extend benefits for miners by an additional four months. But Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Joe Manchin of West Virginia are fighting for a one-year extension at minimum. The senators, both from coal-mining states, threatened to try to stop a procedural vote from taking place — putting the government at risk of a short-term shutdown.

“They’ve already gotten the first letter saying the insurance runs out the end of December. Now they’ll get a second letter if we do the four month extension in January or February saying, sorry, it’s going to run out again in April,” Brown said in his floor speech Thursday. “How would we like to live that way saying you’re going to have insurance until this day and then we’ll give you a little extension, you’ll have it until this day. That is simply not fair. Maybe it’s okay for us because we have good benefits and good insurance, but it’s not okay for them.”

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