The measure also does not include a fix for billions of dollars in impending cuts in medicare and farm aid programs that could take effect next year, two sources have confirmed. These planned funding cuts are a consequence of the budget reconciliation process used to transmit President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion pandemic assistance package in March.
Congress generally avoids such cuts with bipartisan ease, but Republicans have been unwilling to help as the majority party pursues big spending plans without GOP support. Democrats have pledged to find another legislative way to deal with drastic funding cuts next year. But they’ll still need the help of at least 10 Senate Republicans, setting up another possible showdown as the GOP focuses on spending and inflation issues before the 2022 midterm.
And the new interim deal between top Democrats and Republicans doesn’t guarantee a drama-free Friday night. A group of Senate conservatives are still threatening to force a brief shutdown in an attempt to fight President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for the private sector.
“Unfortunately, it looks like the Republican dysfunction could be an obstacle to avoiding an unnecessary and dangerous shutdown,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday.
“We hope cold heads will prevail,” he added. “If there is a stop, it will be a Republican anti-vaccine stop.”
The leaders of both parties have said there will be no funding lapse. But stepping up the pace of spending requires the cooperation of every senator, increasing the pressure on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his leadership team to stem the Tory rebellion.
Partisan sniping in the Senate on amendments to annual defense policy legislation has also sucked up speaking time in the upper house. There is no guarantee that lawmakers can avoid even a brief weekend shutdown, which, while disruptive, would not negatively affect federal agencies or employees.
In the House, at least, Democrats expect to easily pass the measure, which does little more than extend current funding levels by an additional 11 weeks. The House Rules Committee will roll out the patch Thursday morning, followed by a floor vote shortly thereafter.
Both sides say the skirmish over the short-term funding solution will be much simpler than the coming brutal fight over annual congressional spending. Democrats are eager to pass a government funding bill that can finally include Biden’s priorities – his presidency’s first spending bill. Without it, the federal government continued to operate at spending levels established under former President Donald Trump.
But again, Senate Republicans have openly indicated they have no plans to make it easy for Democrats.
In a statement, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) Made it clear that the Senate GOP would begin full-year funding talks with the same priorities that complicated discussions last year: “Maintaining the pilots legacy, eliminate poison pills, and take seriously the funding we will provide in defense of our nation.
“If that doesn’t happen, we’ll have the same conversation in February,” Shelby warned.