Senate scrambles to avoid shutdown as it tries to pass ONE WEEK funding bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York announced on Monday that he is ready to introduce a week-long spending bill, also known as the continuing resolution, to stop the shutdown from the federal government – ​​a signal that the negotiations between the two parties have been successful. but will not be hashed before Friday’s midnight deadline.

Kicking the box a week would give lawmakers until Christmas Eve to agree on a year-long budget bill to fund the government and go home for the holidays – or pass it. a longer resolution that would give Republicans more of a say on finance in the House.

Known as the omnibus package, the bill consists of several smaller supply bills that would keep the government running for a year and only require one vote in the House and Senate.

“Later this week, members should be ready to act quickly on a CR, a one-week CR, so we can give users more time to complete a full funding bill before the holidays,” said Schumer said. “I’m optimistic we could act on a CR fairly quickly and avoid the shutdown that neither side wants.”

While the two sides are still bickering over a big figure, they have already agreed to $847 billion for the Pentagon, as passed in the House in the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) the last week. This funding, an increase of around 10% over last year’s level, is contingent on the adoption of an omnibus package.

Top GOP official Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama said last week the two sides were still separated by $26 billion for non-defense spending as part of about $1.5 trillion. of dollars.

In his opening remarks Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky did not reject the idea of ​​a weeklong bill, but said that if Democrats don’t drop their demand for increased non-defence spending, the only option would be to launch the unfinished funding bill for fiscal year 2023 next year.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy of California has been pushing for that option, as his role will take control of the lower house on Jan. 3.

“The commander-in-chief’s own party cannot demand a pile of unrelated freebies in exchange for doing his job and funding our armed forces,” McConnell said.

“Our fellow Democrats have already spent two years massively increasing domestic spending using reconciliation bills outside of the normal appropriations process,” he added, referring to the US bailout and the law. on reducing inflation.

Democrats – led by Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York (above) and Republicans are struggling to reach a government funding deal before Friday’s midnight deadline to halt a shutdown

Democrats currently control both houses of Congress, but Schumer needs 10 Senate Republican votes to push a funding measure through the legislative process.

McCarthy does not want to go fast.

“We are 28 days away from Republicans having the hammer. We would be stronger in every negotiation,” McCarthy said in a Dec. 5 interview on Fox News. ‘Wait until we’re in charge.’

Some Senate Republicans agree with him.

“Let’s pass a CR that will allow a Republican House to pass a more fiscally responsible spending bill early next year,” GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin tweeted Friday.

Staunchly conservative Representative Chip Roy of Texas urged Senate Republicans to “vote no” on the week-long bill and wait for a bill that extends until the next Congress.

The idea, however, worries Democrats,

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said he fears Republicans are hijacking government funding to cut social programs.

“Obviously what worries me is the Republican efforts to hold hostage next year, if we don’t pass an omnibus bill, to hold — hold the government hostage in order to reduce security social security, Medicare and Medicaid. And that I will vigorously oppose,” he said on CNN on Sunday.

With no long-term deal in sight, officials could work until Christmas Eve and into the New Year.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (left) urges Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (right) to stay away from the negotiating table until their side wins control in the House on January 3.

If lawmakers fail to reach an agreement on Friday evening, as required by law, the government will begin shutting down non-essential services and furloughing workers.

The latest shutdown occurred in January 2019 in what became a record 35-day shutdown in government services that nearly shut down major airports on the East Coast.

This year, Republicans want to cut spending on social programs and argue that bills like President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion U.S. bailout and $750 billion health care bill health, tax and climate change known as the Inflation Reduction Act made inflation worse.

“Our Commander-in-Chief and his party have spent huge sums on national priorities outside of the normal penny appropriations process for the Ministry of Defence. Obviously, we will not allow them to also hijack the government funding process and hold our troops hostage for even more liberal spending,’ McConnell told the Senate Thursday.

Democrats counter that they were needed to help the country recover from the pandemic.

And they say those earlier bills shouldn’t mean less money for domestic spending in the new budget.

In a sign of progress over the weekend, Democrats decided not to produce their own version of a spending bill that Republicans saw as a threat.

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, backtracked Sunday night, saying “sufficient progress” had been made in bipartisan talks.

“Speaker Leahy believes that sufficient progress in negotiations has taken place over the weekend to delay the introduction of the omnibus appropriations bill for the time being,” a Senate Democratic aide told Reuters. “Bipartisan and bicameral negotiations are continuing.”

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, decided not to release a Democratic spending bill – a sign negotiations went well over the weekend

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, decided not to release a Democratic spending bill – a sign negotiations went well over the weekend

Tied to the funding measure is an electoral overhaul bill designed to avoid another Jan. 6, which Senate leaders want to attach to the omnibus package that funds the government.

Also this week, the Senate is expected to consider the annual defense authorization bill after the House approved it last week.

This year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes $847 billion for the Department of Defense and approximately $30 billion for the Department of Energy’s nuclear activities. It also includes a 4.6% salary increase for troops.

The House passed the bill in a 350-80 bipartisan vote on Thursday.

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