Lawmakers ought to put together for a week-long funding hole whereas negotiations proceed, Schumer says


CNN

The House and Senate are expected to pass a short-term extension to stave off a shutdown, which would give negotiators more time to attempt to finalize a broader full-year funding agreement.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that senators should be ready to take “quick action” for a week-long extension to give lawmakers more time to negotiate.

Schumer, in comments in the Senate, said he expects “quick action” on a makeshift funding bill, known as a rolling resolution, or CR for short, “so that we can give appropriators more time to complete a full funding bill before the holidays.”

Budget negotiators must reach an agreement before the deadline or postpone the decision until next year if House Republicans take over. That could complicate the administration’s ability to avert a shutdown, as it would mean newly empowered House Republicans would have to agree with 60 senators and Democratic President Joe Biden.

The other major piece of legislation that lawmakers are working to finalize before the end of the year is the National Defense Authorization Act, the massive annual defense policy bill that must be passed. The NDAA is expected to go to the Senate vote this week and be passed with bipartisan support.

The House of Representatives has already approved the measure. Once the Senate votes to pass it, the bill can go to President Joe Biden to put it into effect.

The approaching deadline for federal funding prompted congressmen and their staffers from both parties, as well as Biden administration officials, to continue plowing through negotiations over the weekend to try to reach an agreement on a spending package.

“This is the time of year when there are no weekends for people working on funds,” an administration official closely involved in the talks told CNN.

Over the weekend, both Democrats and Republicans shared their “balance sheet” on separate fronts, and the White House remained publicly optimistic that an omnibus deal could be reached: “There is absolutely still a way and time for action.”

Government officials continue to claim that they see no real likelihood of a government shutdown.

Congressional aides conceded to CNN that the weekend talks were going better than days before, which is why Democrats have announced they will not launch a dedicated Democrat-only omnibus plan on Monday. Republicans on Capitol Hill had read a threat for Democrats to launch their own bills as a messaging exercise that would only further divide negotiators, and by avoiding that messaging exercise Republicans are taking a sign that Democrats are are serious about trying to get a yes.

For the time being, a cross-party agreement on state funding remains hopeless. Lawmakers have yet to reach a negotiated agreement for a comprehensive, year-round funding package — known on Capitol Hill as the omnibus — amid a dispute between the two parties over how much money should be spent on non-defense, domestic priorities . Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the senior Republican member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters there was about $26 billion between the two sides.

Republicans are critical of Democrats’ recent domestic spending, arguing that measures Democrats passed while they controlled both houses of Congress, like the $1.9 trillion Pandemic Relief Act and the Comprehensive Health and Climate Protection Act , are wasteful and will exacerbate inflation. Democrats counter by saying the measures are necessary to help the country recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic and to address other critical priorities. And Democrats said money to respond to Covid, health care and climate shouldn’t mean there should be less money next year for government operations and non-defense domestic spending.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that Democrats must drop their calls for additional spending on domestic programs in order to pass sweeping government funding legislation before the holiday, or risk passing a short-term legislation until To be passed early next year after Republicans take control of the House and would be willing to call for even lower levels of funding.

“Our Democratic colleagues have already spent two years massively – massively – increasing domestic spending using bills to reconcile party line outside of the normal appropriation process,” McConnell said on the floor. “Of course, our colleagues cannot now ask for more, more domestic spending than President Biden asked for in the first place in exchange for US military funding.”

“If our fellow Democrats in the House and Senate can accept these realities in the near future, we may still have a chance of putting together a full-year funding account that gives our military commanders the reassurance they need to invest, plan and face.” Rivals to stay competitive like China. If our Democratic colleagues cannot accept these realities, the option is a short-term bipartisan funding bill by early next year,” McConnell said.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, outlined the case for his party in his own speech Thursday. Republicans, Leahy said, “are demanding big cuts to programs the American people rely on.”

Referring to legislation passed by Democrats that Republicans have criticized, Leahy said, “These bills were designed to get us out of the pandemic, make the nation healthy and get our economy back on track, and I believe they’re accomplishing that goal.” They were not intended to fund the basic functions of the US government in fiscal 2023.”

As lawmakers continue to negotiate, the federal government has begun preparing for a potential shutdown, engaging in the mandatory but standard process of releasing shutdown guidance to agencies before the funding deadline on Friday.

Officials have stressed that there is no real likelihood of government shutdown, but the standard process of determining steps to shut down non-essential government functions is underway.

“One week before the funds bills expire, whether the funds are imminent in adoption, OMB will communicate with senior agency officials to remind authorities of their responsibility to review and update plans for the orderly shutdown and will Share a draft communication template to notify staff of the status of funds,” reads a document from the Bureau of Management and Budget.

This default policy was circulated last Friday, marking seven days before a shutdown could occur without congressional action.

Each department and agency has its own plans and procedures. These plans include information about how many employees would be furloughed, which employees would be essential and would work without pay (e.g. shutting down operations in the hours before a shutdown, and what activities would come to a halt.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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