House Moves to Avoid a Friday Shutdown, But Hurdles Remain in the Senate
Lawmakers are looking to create enough time to pass a full-year funding measure.
The House on Wednesday approved 224 to 201 a one-week stopgap funding bill to stave off a shutdown on Friday night, but the process must still clear some hurdles in the Senate.
Lawmakers are seeking to buy time until appropriators can draft and Congress can pass a full-year omnibus funding measure for fiscal 2023 after negotiators struck a bipartisan deal on a framework Tuesday evening. Absent congressional action, funding would expire and agencies would shutter late Friday. The House-backed bill would extend that deadline to Dec. 23.
The measure now heads to the Senate, where it will require a unanimous agreement to provide for expedited consideration. Several senators said Wednesday they objected to the CR and were considering voicing that from the Senate floor, which would effectively cause a short shutdown.
“I typically don’t signal in advance what procedural objections I might raise to a late, breaking [unanimous consent] request,” said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who introduced his own CR to keep agencies funded at their current levels through Feb. 4. He added he will continue to push for his lengthier bill on the floor, which he said would create the dual benefit of giving lawmakers more time to read the omnibus and Republicans more leverage in negotiations after they take control of the House next year.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., echoed Lee and others in arguing the omnibus would increase deficits too dramatically and the one-week CR was creating a false deadline seeking to force lawmakers to act before Christmas.
Asked if he would allow the CR to proceed, Johnson said, “We’re not saying we’re going to.”
Lee called the procedure an “extortive threat” and insisted he did not want a shutdown, stressing his bill would provide Congress an escape hatch.
House Republicans similarly objected to the CR on Wednesday after Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., advocated against it.
Despite having controlling Congress and the presidency, Democrats “did not do their work but they should not jam us now,” McCarthy said. “We should not move a short-term CR. We should move one further into the new year.”
Lawmakers must still negotiate the details of the bill to set line-by-line funding for every agency in government, but Tuesday’s deal allows appropriators to begin writing the measure in a bipartisan fashion. Prior to the announcement, appropriators had yet to settle on the top-line funding level and the breakdown for defense and domestic spending that is necessary before they could write an omnibus. The Senate this week is expected to pass the annual defense authorization bill, which would set defense spending for the year at $858 billion. That would mark about a 10% increase.
Democrats have pushed for an equal increase for non-Defense spending, but Republicans have called that a non-starter, citing the major spending the majority has passed through the reconciliation process. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Republicans would only agree to a non-defense spending increase that would bring the total price tag for the omnibus up to the level proposed by President Biden in his fiscal 2023 budget.
Lawmakers did not disclose the funding levels they agreed upon for their framework, but in recent days had said they were apart by about $26 billion. Democrats had said they would vote this week on an omnibus bill they were writing without direct Republican input, but scrapped those plans after making progress on a bipartisan deal over the weekend. Rep Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., the top Democratic appropriator, stressed there is still a significant amount of work outstanding.
“We have a framework that provides a path forward to enact an omnibus next week,” she said. “Now, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will work around the clock to negotiate the details of final 2023 spending bills that can be supported by the House and Senate and receive President Biden’s signature.”
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who leads Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee, similarly said he and his colleagues were just beginning “the difficult work” of writing the bills that make up an omnibus and that Congress would be able to pass it in time only “if all goes well.”