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Lawmakers should brace for week-long funding stopgap as negotiations continue, Schumer says


The House and Senate are expected to pass a short-term extension to avoid a shutdown, giving negotiators more time to try to secure a broader, full-year funding deal.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that senators should be prepared to act quickly on a one-week extension to give lawmakers more time to negotiate.

Schumer said in remarks to the Senate that he plans “early action” on an interim funding bill known as the Continuing Resolution, or CR for short, “so that we can give users more time to complete a full funding bill before the holidays.”

Budget negotiators must reach a deal before their deadline or push back the decision until next year, when House Republicans take over. That could complicate the government’s ability to avoid a shutdown, as it would mean newly empowered House Republicans must agree with 60 senators and Democratic President Joe Biden.

The other major piece of legislation lawmakers are pushing to get through before the end of the year is the National Defense Authorization Act, the massive annual defense policy bill. The NDAA is expected to get a vote in the Senate this week and be approved with bipartisan support.

The House has already approved the measure, so once the Senate votes to pass it, the bill can be sent to President Joe Biden for signing into law.

As the government funding deadline nears, members of Congress and their aides from both parties, as well as Biden administration officials, continued to push for negotiations over the weekend. to try to reach an agreement on a set of expenditures.

“It’s the time of year when there are no weekends for people working on credits,” an administration official closely involved in the talks told CNN.

Over the weekend, Democrats and Republicans shared their “results” on a variety of fronts, and the White House remained publicly optimistic that an omnibus deal could be reached: “There is absolutely a path left and a time for an agreement.”

Administration officials continue to maintain that they see no real likelihood of a government shutdown.

Congressional aides acknowledged to CNN that the weekend talks went better than previous days, which is why Democrats announced they would not introduce their own Democrat-only omnibus plan on Monday. Republicans on Capitol Hill had read a threat to Democrats introducing their own bills as a messaging exercise that would only further divide negotiators, and by avoiding this messaging exercise, Republicans see a sign that Democrats are serious about trying to achieve yes.

For now, a bipartisan agreement on government funding remains elusive. Lawmakers have yet to reach a negotiated agreement for a comprehensive, full-year funding package — known on Capitol Hill as the omnibus — amid a dispute between the two sides over the amount of money to be spent on non-defence national priorities. . Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, a top Republican member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters the two sides were about $26 billion apart.

Republicans are critical of recent domestic spending by Democrats and argue that measures Democrats passed while in control of both houses of Congress, such as the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill and the massive health care and climate bill, are wasteful and will make inflation worse. Democrats are hitting back by saying these measures were necessary to help the country recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic as well as 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 domestic spending unrelated to defense.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that Democrats must drop their demands for additional spending on national programs to push through a sweeping government funding bill before the holidays or risk passing a bill. short-term bill early next year after Republicans take control of the House and are reportedly poised to demand even lower funding levels.

“Our fellow Democrats have already spent two years massively — massively — increasing domestic spending using party-line reconciliation bills outside of the normal appropriations process,” McConnell said on the floor. “Obviously, our colleagues cannot now demand even more, more domestic spending than even President Biden has asked for in exchange for funding the US military.”

“If fellow House and Senate Democrats can come to terms with these realities in the very near future, we may still have a chance to prepare a full-year funding bill that will give our military commanders the certainty they have. need to invest, plan and stay competitive with their rivals. like China. If our fellow Democrats cannot come to terms with these realities, the option will be a short-term bipartisan funding bill early next year,” McConnell said.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, laid out his party’s argument in his own floor remarks Thursday. Republicans, Leahy said, “demand deep cuts to the programs the American people rely on.”

Referring to legislation passed by Democrats and criticized by Republicans, Leahy said, “These bills were meant to get us out of the pandemic, restore the nation to health, and get our economy back on track, and I think they achieve that goal. They were not intended to fund core U.S. government functions in fiscal year 2023.”

As lawmakers continue to negotiate, the federal government has begun the process of preparing for a possible shutdown, participating in the mandatory but standard process of issuing shutdown guidelines to agencies before Friday’s funding deadline.

Officials stressed there was no real likelihood of a government shutdown, but standard procedure outlining steps to shut down non-essential government functions is underway.

“A week before the appropriation bills expire, whether or not appropriations enactment appears imminent, OMB will communicate with senior agency officials to remind agencies of their review and implementation responsibilities. update plans for the orderly closure, and will share a draft communication template with notifying employees of the status of appropriations,” a document from the Office of Management and Budget reads.

Those standard guidelines were released last Friday, marking seven days before a shutdown could occur absent congressional action.

Each department and agency has its own set of plans and procedures. These plans include information on how many employees would be laid off, which employees are essential and would work without pay (e.g., air traffic controllers, Secret Service agents, state Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab staff States), how long it would take to shut down operations in the hours before a shutdown, and what activities would shut down.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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