Democrats are poised to avert a government shutdown after getting Republicans to agree to a lavish funding deal for next year.
Lawmakers are patting themselves on the back over the bi-partisan agreement, which is being backed by Republican Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Government shutdown averted
Despite intense partisan divisions, the parties usually find a way to keep the government’s lights on every December. Congress has been criticized for its practice of hastily passing massive “omnibus” bills at the end of the year, but it shows no signs of stopping.
The top negotiators on this year’s omnibus were quick to congratulate themselves, with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) touting the “bipartisan, bicameral framework.”
Congress has until Friday to pass a stopgap bill that would give lawmakers time to finish the omnibus, which was also negotiated by Republican Richard Shelby (AL) and House Democrat Rosa DeLauro (CT). Lawmakers are in a hurry, with the Christmas holiday fast approaching.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that lawmakers plan to be “on the road going home” by December 23.
More money for Ukraine
McConnell said the omnibus package is “broadly appealing” and raises defense spending “without having to pay a bonus above what President Biden asked” for in domestic spending.
Lawmakers have not shared a figure on the total cost of the bill, but it is expected to exceed $1.5 trillion.
As is typical, the bill includes irrelevant partisan goodies like the Electoral Count Act, which would rebuke Donald Trump and the January 6th “insurrection” by affirming that the vice president’s role in certifying elections is merely ceremonial.
While the omnibus is ostensibly about funding the U.S. government, it is expected to include billions more for the war in Ukraine. Biden had requested another $37 billion.
House Republicans object
The agreement to push a bill before power changes hands in January could weaken the leverage of House Republicans, who won a narrow majority in this year’s elections.
House Republican whip Steve Scalise (LA) said in a memo to members that the proposed one-week stopgap “is an attempt to buy additional time for a massive lame-duck spending bill in which House Republicans have had no seat at the negotiating table.”
But Leahy says that any delay on a funding agreement would worsen the impact of inflation that the government created in the first place with its reckless spending.
“The pain of inflation is real, and it is being felt across the federal government and by American families right now,” Leahy said. “We cannot delay our work any further, and a two-month continuing resolution does not provide any relief.”