December 13

By Kaia Hubbard

Lawmakers are pushing to leave Washington next week with a full-year bill to fund the government under their belts, eyeing a one-week extension this week to buy negotiators more time. But much remains to be done before they can take off for the holiday as Congress remains at odds over the top-line agreement.

With Friday’s deadline to avert a government shutdown quickly approaching, House Democrats unveiled a one-week government funding bill on Tuesday, while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York told the Senate to be ready to pass the continuing resolution to give negotiators until Dec. 23 to gain support for a broader agreement before departing for the holidays.

“Though we’re working tirelessly, we need a bit more time beyond this week to get an omnibus done and avoid a needless shutdown,” Schumer told reporters on Tuesday.

Schumer said proceeding toward a longer-term bill, called an omnibus, is the “most responsible” option for funding the government. He noted that he expects the omnibus would contain “priorities that both sides want,” including more funding for Ukraine and the Electoral Count Act, which is billed as legislation to avert another event like the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky seemed to concur with Schumer on some points, telling reporters on Tuesday that “we’re very close to getting an omnibus appropriations bill that would be – I think – broadly appealing,” while adding that the priority now is to provide enough defense funding and to “stick with our friends in Ukraine.”

But McConnell indicated that if work on the omnibus bill is not complete by the night of Dec. 22, then Republicans are “happy to pass a short term CR into early next year.”

Pushing off a long-term funding agreement into the new year would be a favorable outcome for some Republicans, like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who reiterated his lack of support for an omnibus bill ahead of the new Congress in a tweet on Tuesday.

“Republicans will soon be in the majority and in the driver’s seat to fight for our priorities,” McCarthy wrote in a tweet. “That’s why every Republican should be a NO on Democrats’ lame-duck omnibus bill.”

But Schumer noted on Tuesday that “the vast majority of us don’t want to see a CR” into the new year, noting that it would prevent investments made during the last year from receiving funding.

“Republicans should be with us,” Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said about moving forward with an omnibus bill on Tuesday, pointing to how a continuing resolution would effectively cut funding. “If they want to fund the police, if they want order at our southern border, if they want to make sure that our veterans are treated in a positive way, stick with us and pass an omnibus and do it quickly.”

After unveiling the text of a one-week continuing resolution on Tuesday, a final vote is expected in the House in the coming days to push the deadline to Dec. 23 in the hopes of reaching an agreement on an omnibus bill.

The two parties will have to come to an agreement on how much should be spent on domestic priorities, the issue that has been at the heart of the impasse. Republicans have argued that recent domestic spending included in legislation approved earlier this year, like the Inflation Reduction Act and pandemic relief, should be taken into account when considering additional spending, citing fears of worsening inflation. But Democrats have said that the spending previously approved should not result in less funding for domestic priorities in the coming year.