Lawmakers unveil government funding bill to stave off Friday shutdown

“I don’t think it would be very difficult to get to the final vote, but it might take a little time,” Thune said, adding, with the holidays coming up, “it’s time that somebody has to trade.”

The biggest obstacle to releasing the text Monday, instead, came from a dispute among Democrats, first reported by POLITICO, over the location of the FBI’s new headquarters.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and other Marylanders were pushing to insert language into the bill that would favor their home state by changing the GSA’s criteria for selecting the site, while Sens. Mark Warner and Virginia’s Tim Kaine is pushing to keep his tongue out. the spending bill, keeping current guidelines in place would favor Virginia.

In the end both sides agreed to disagree. Instead, they worked out an agreement that requires the head of the GSA to meet with representatives from both states to weigh their thoughts on FBI mission needs, equity and sustainability of potential sites, according to a Senate Democratic aide.

The haggling and final release of the text comes after staff and top lawmakers worked through the weekend to finish the legislation, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying staff and appropriators didn’t sleep, working through Hanukkah and the end of the World Cup. In a sign that the FBI’s position is the final piece of the puzzle, Senate Republicans began briefing staff on the details of the spending deal Monday afternoon.

“We need to complete the entire process and vote on the final passage before the end of the week,” Schumer said. “It won’t be easy, but we’re working hard so we can do it.”

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Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that the upper chamber pass the measure by Thursday, or Republicans will withdraw a stopgap bill to fund the government early next year.

The omnibus includes about $45 billion for Ukraine, which exceeds President Joe Biden’s request for $37 billion, as well as nearly $40 billion in disaster aid for storm and wildfire recovery. The bill is also loaded with unrelated policy provisions, including a bipartisan agreement to reform the outdated Election Counting Act, legislation that would ban TikTok on government phones, an extension of pandemic telehealth flexibility, retirement savings incentives and many others.

The bill does not include billions of dollars in pandemic aid requested by Biden, an extension of the improved Child Tax Credit sought by Democrats, cannabis banking legislation and a common tax provision that would allow businesses to write off their research expenses immediately. rather than over a period of five years.

A bipartisan agreement to ease the sentencing differences between crack and powder cocaine was also removed from the bill after Attorney General Merrick Garland directed federal prosecutors last week to eliminate the sentencing differences, prompting frustration from Sen. . Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who accused. him for blowing up the Senate deal.

Republicans on Monday were hailing the defenseless funding figure as a victory, after arguing for weeks that Democrats didn’t need big increases in social spending after they passed their climate, tax, health and Covid aid bills. in place in recent years.

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When funding for veterans is excluded, domestic programs will receive more than a 5 percent boost this fiscal year, which McConnell managed to cut after accounting for inflation. Democrats have been pushing to include some or all of the veterans funding in its own category outside of the non-defense discretionary bucket, so that it doesn’t eat up other priorities.

Meanwhile, Democrats are touting victories like a nearly $22 billion increase in seniors’ medical care, $1 billion for Puerto Rico’s electric grid, $1 billion to help low-income families heat their homes and more.

Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin said Monday that he was “disappointed” with how the defense and non-defense funding gap was shaping up, noting that McConnell “is in a bargaining position that he’s taking advantage of.”

“We will do our best in the last days and hours of negotiations to ensure that the domestic agenda is also improved, but it is clear that he does not want to do that,” said Durbin.

Asked about Durbin’s opinion, Leahy frustrated his colleague with a bill Leahy helped write: “He should vote against it there.”

The spending bill is likely to fuel tensions between McConnell and his right wing, which has challenged his bid to become GOP leader and is increasingly seeking confirmation heading into next year, as well as Republicans the Senate and their colleagues in the House.

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Republicans will gather as a group on Tuesday for a closed-door lunch, where the spending bill is likely to be a big topic of conversation.

Only a minority of the Senate GOP conference is likely to vote for the spending package. Meanwhile, House Republicans are widely expected to oppose it.

Representative Kay Granger of Texas, the top Republican appropriator in the House, did not participate in the bill’s negotiations. Thirteen House Republicans, led by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), wrote a letter Monday night to Senate Republicans urging them to “take all necessary steps” to stop the spending bill and warned them that they would “resist and whip against it. any legislative priority” next year the senators who support her, including McConnell.

Conservatives can’t block the massive spending package — as long as 10 Republicans in the Senate agree with all Democrats to help clear procedural hurdles. McConnell has indicated that he will support the package, as long as it passes his self-imposed deadline of December 22nd. When the Senate passes the bill, it is expected to leave town until the end of January.

It is unclear whether Senate conservatives will advance procedural barriers this week, however. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Monday that senators should get votes on the amendment, but added that “everyone seems pretty confident that they have the votes for it.”

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