The House Approves A Short-term Fix For Funding, But A Bigger Deal Is Still A Secret

The House passed a stopgap spending bill Wednesday night that gives negotiators an extra week to finish a $1.7 trillion spending package before the end of the year. This means that lawmakers will have to work hard before they leave for the holidays.

The short-term funding fix, which was passed by a vote of 224 to 201, stops the government from shutting down at midnight on Friday and keeps federal money flowing until Dec. 23. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the Senate could pass the measure as soon as Thursday, as long as there isn’t any “unwelcome brouhaha.” This is a reference to the fact that any one senator could hold up the funding fix in exchange for concessions or amendment votes.

The House will vote on the stopgap measure after the top appropriators finally came to an agreement Tuesday night on a bipartisan framework that will make way for a big funding bill at the end of the year that will increase the budgets of federal agencies for the current fiscal year. It’s a huge task for a Congress that has had trouble getting anything done on time, even when important things like military readiness, help for Ukraine, and Medicare cuts were at stake.

Senate Appropriations Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) wouldn’t say much about the larger spending deal on Wednesday, saying only that negotiators needed to “do some allocation.” Shelby said, “We’ve taken the first big, big, big, big step.”

House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) was sure Wednesday morning that House Democrats will be able to pass the huge spending bill once it is all put together. She said that earmarks will help get more people to support the bill. DeLauro must make sure that the bill can pass the lower chamber, even if every Republican votes against it and there are only two Democratic votes left.

The House Approves A Short-term Fix For Funding, But A Bigger Deal Is Still A Secret
The House Approves A Short-term Fix For Funding, But A Bigger Deal Is Still A Secret

Most Republicans in the House voted against the one-week stopgap, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is making it clear that he is also against a bigger deal to pay for government spending. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who is in charge of appropriations for the House GOP, has not been part of the talks.

In a short interview, DeLauro said, “Our caucus had a lot to say about how these bills were written and what was in them.” “We’re going to help them get what they want. There are also projects for the neighborhood. I hope that people will help me.”

Schumer said Wednesday morning that the framework is a “big step in the right direction,” but that “we still have a long way to go.” In a speech on the floor, he called the outline, which hadn’t been made public yet, “a balanced approach because it will have wins for both sides.”

He has also said that the final spending bill for the end of the year will include a change to the Electoral Count Act, which is an old law that former President Donald Trump tried to use to change the results of the 2020 election. It will also include tens of billions of dollars in emergency money for Ukraine.

Senate Republicans held a special conference meeting on Wednesday to talk about how to avoid another fight over spending at the end of the year next year. They talked about how to use their power on the Senate floor and how to handle a fight over the debt ceiling that is coming up soon. Some GOP senators won’t say for sure that either the stopgap funding bill or the full funding bill will pass easily. “I never say ahead of time what steps I might take in response to something like that. I’ll have to make a decision on the spot. Sen. Mike Lee said, “It gives us pause” (R-Utah).

During a press conference on Wednesday, a small group of conservative Republican senators wouldn’t say if they would mind if the one-week stopgap measure was passed faster. Instead, they kept up their call for a short-term fix that would keep the government running until early next year. This would give House Republicans a chance to weigh in. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said that the topic was also brought up at the GOP lunch and that he is “probably” against the larger deal.

“Most of us want to know simple things like, ‘What is the main point?'” Cramer said this about the overall levels of spending. “A lot of people are upset about the lack of headlines and other details… At the end of the day, there probably will be enough people to pass a [comprehensive spending deal], but a lot of people will be upset about it. There will be more votes, but nothing will have changed.

Appropriators announced their deal on Tuesday night, but they didn’t say much about the bipartisan funding framework. They didn’t say much because they didn’t want to add to the opposition to the huge spending bill, which hasn’t come together yet. But the negotiators have mostly agreed on a defense budget of about $858 billion, which is a 10% increase over current funding levels.

Getting both parties to agree on how much money to spend on domestic programs has been the biggest problem. DeLauro and Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who is stepping down, have fought for increases in social spending that keep up with inflation. They say that funding for things other than defense can’t come at the cost of a bigger military budget.

But Republicans have said that many of the domestic spending priorities of Democrats have been met by party-line bills in the last two years. So, the majority party might have to settle for less money for social programs than they wanted at first.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor Wednesday morning, “I’m glad that our Democratic colleagues have finally come to terms with reality and agreed with the Republican view that we need to put our national security first.” “Funding defense is a basic job of our government that both Democrats and Republicans have to do. It doesn’t get Democrats special treats,” he said.

McConnell has said that he will support the final spending plan for the end of the year. He has also said that appropriators must finish their work in the next week or Republicans will support a stopgap that will last until early next year. McConnell said Tuesday that GOP senators will not come back after the holidays to finish working on the spending deal.

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