Congress faces looming government shutdown deadline at end of the week


Lawmakers face a midnight deadline on Friday for government funding to expire – and the House and Senate are likely to have to pass a short-term extension to avoid a shutdown at the end of the week, which would give more more time for negotiators to try. achieve a wider full year funding market.

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

The measure has already been approved by the House so once the Senate votes to pass it, the bill can go to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

The deadline is approaching with members of Congress and their staff from both parties, as well as Biden administration officials, continuing to push through negotiations over the weekend to try to reach an agreement on a spending package.

“This is the time of the year when there is no weekend for people who work on appropriations,” one administration official closely involved in the talks told CNN.

Over the weekend, Democrats and Republicans were sharing their “bottom lines” with each other on various fronts, and the White House remained publicly optimistic that an omnibus agreement could be reached: “There is still a path and time to for dealing.”

But if Biden administration officials are still keeping their eye on the ball on Congress finally reaching an agreement on a government spending deal, there’s also a real recognition that lawmakers will need a few extra days — maybe even a week – of a cushion to buy more for themselves. time. This would be achieved by passing a short-term stop gap measure known as a continuing resolution, or CR.

Especially with that in mind, administration officials also continue to claim that they see no real likelihood of a government shutdown.

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

So far, bipartisan agreement on government funding has not been reached. Lawmakers have yet to reach a negotiated agreement on a comprehensive, year-round funding package — known as an omnibus on Capitol Hill — amid a bipartisan dispute over how much money should be spent on non-defense domestic priorities. . Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has told reporters that the two sides are about $26 billion apart.

Republicans have been critical of Democrats’ recent domestic spending and argue that measures passed by Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress, such as the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill and the sweeping health care and climate bill, are wasteful and that they will make inflation worse. Democrats said the measures were needed to help the country recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic as well as address other critical priorities. And Democrats said money to respond to Covid, health care and climate should not mean there should be less money next year for government operations and non-defense domestic spending.

The impasse on a broader funding deal is likely to force both sides to agree to pass a short-term funding extension – known as a continuing resolution, or CR – before the fast-approaching Friday deadline.

The main question is how long such an extension would last. It could be as short as one week, a time frame that would keep the pressure on lawmakers to reach a broader agreement, and allow even more time for negotiations. Or he could extend the shutdown deadline into the next Congress, which will convene on January 3, when Republicans take control of the House.

That majority change in the House would change the dynamics of the negotiations and probably make it much more difficult to reach a broader funding agreement. Lawmakers could pass a full-year CR if it looks like a bipartisan funding deal can’t be reached, but leaders in both parties hope to avoid that scenario since it would keep spending balanced for the Pentagon as well as domestic priorities.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell laid out the GOP position in remarks on the Senate floor Thursday. “Our commander in chief and his party have spent huge sums on domestic priorities outside the normal appropriations process without a penny for the Department of Defense. Of course, we will not let them now hijack the government funding process as well, and take our troops hostage for even more liberal spending,” McConnell said.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, outlined the argument for his party in his own floor remarks Thursday. Republicans, Leahy said, “are demanding drastic cuts to programs that the American people depend on.”

Referring to the Democratic legislation criticized by Republicans, Leahy said, “Those bills were meant to get us out of the pandemic, get the nation healthy, and get our economy back on track, and I believe that they are achieving that goal. They were not intended to fund the core functions of the American government in fiscal year 2023.”

While lawmakers continue to negotiate, the federal government has begun the process of preparing for a possible shutdown, taking part in the mandatory but standard process of releasing shutdown guidance to agencies ahead of Friday’s funding deadline.

Officials have emphasized that there is no real likelihood of a government shutdown, but standard procedure is setting out steps to shut down non-essential government functions.

“One week prior to the expiration of appropriations bills, regardless of whether appropriations enactment appears imminent, OMB will communicate with senior agency officials to review and update their responsibilities regarding orderly shutdown plans remind agencies, and will share a draft communication template to. communicate the status of appropriations to employees,” a document from the Office of Management and Budget stated.

That standard directive was circulated last Friday, marking seven days before a shutdown could occur without Congressional action.

Each department and agency has its own set of plans and procedures. Those plans include information about the number of employees who would be furloughed, which employees are essential and who would work without pay (for example, air traffic controllers, Secret Service agents, US Centers for Disease Control laboratory staff and Prevention), how long it would take. operations to conclude in the hours leading up to the shutdown, and what activities would cease.

This story has been updated with additional developments.


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