Today’s Tidbits: November 29, 2017

Today’s Tidbits: November 29, 2017

Here are our tidbits for November 29, 2017:  is a government shutdown coming?, and Barry Myers’ nomination hearing to be NOAA Administrator.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter for more news and live tweeting of events.

Is a Government Shutdown Coming?

The government is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) at last year’s (FY2017) funding level.  It expires on December 8.  If Congress does not reach agreement on FY2018 funding, or extend the CR, the government will shut down.

House Speaker Paul Ryan indicated recently that the plan was to extend the CR until later in December to give Congress more time to complete work on tax reform.  By pushing the deadline closer to Christmas, it presumably also would make it more difficult for Democrats to try and force a shutdown over issues they want to resolve as part of the appropriations debate, such as immigration.

Yesterday, House and Senate Republican and Democratic leaders — Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — were supposed to meet with President Trump in the afternoon to begin negotiations over a budget deal.  However, in the morning President Trump tweeted three insults at Democrats and said he did not think a deal could be made.

Pelosi and Schumer consequently decided not to participate in the meeting, saying they would instead focus on negotiating with their Republican counterparts in Congress.  A political firestorm has erupted and the end game is not clear.

Today, the rumor is that Ryan and McConnell will try to pass an extension of the CR into January to give even more time to complete work on tax reform and avoid a budget fight over the holidays.  Earlier Ryan had insisted that the CR would not be extended into 2018.  It is very difficult for agencies to operate effectively under CRs because of the funding level uncertainty and inability to start (or end) programs. DOD in particular has warned Congress about the disruption CRs cause.

The government was shut down for 16 days in October 2013.  It was precipitated by Republicans and many expected the Republican Party to pay a price in the 2014 elections, but it did not.  Nevertheless, although shutdown threats have become almost routine since then, the two parties have overcome their disagreements and kept the government open.  (The government also shut down during the Clinton Administration when Republicans controlled Congress.)

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) said today during an interview on WTOP radio that he was not worried about a government shutdown because Democrats would not allow that to happen.  Other Democrats have been warning that they might allow a shutdown if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration issue is not resolved, however.

The highly politicized atmosphere in Washington makes it impossible to usefully prognosticate on how this will play out, but it’s a reasonable guess that an extension of the CR into January is more likely than not.

Barry Myers Nomination Hearing

Barry Myers. Credit: Barry Myers’ LinkedIn page.

The Senate Commerce Committee held its nomination hearing for Barry Myers to be the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of NOAA today. Myers is controversial because he is a businessman and lawyer, not a scientist, and has spent most of his career at AccuWeather, which his brothers own and employs other family members.

Reports indicate that little was said at the hearing about NOAA’s satellite programs.  It focused on his ties to AccuWeather and whether that creates a conflict of interest since NOAA operates the National Weather Service, which provides free weather information to the public.

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), the ranking member of the committee, said “It’s no secret that in 2005 you were behind a bill … that would have prohibited the weather service from offering a product or service ‘that is or could be provided by the private sector’ – a provision that would have directly benefited AccuWeather.  If this bill had passed, Americans’ access to free and potentially life-saving government weather forecasts would have been placed at great risk.”

Myers vowed that he and his wife would “resign from every company, board and organization that could be in conflict with my new role” if confirmed.  “We have also agreed to sell ALL of our ownership interests — shares and options — in AccuWeather and all related companies.”

The only reference to satellites in his prepared statement was that “We need to ensure continuity and cost-control of our satellite programs.”

Recently Published on

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.