Latest News 12-12-2022 21:57 10 Views

Senate tees up one-week funding bill to avert government shutdown

The Senate is rushing to avert a government shutdown set for Friday by passing a short-term funding bill for one week. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday on the Senate floor that the extension would give bipartisan lawmakers more time to strike a year-long budget deal. 

'The benefits of an omnibus are as many as there are citizens in America,' said Schumer.

While both Democrats and Republicans agree a short-term spending bill is needed to prevent a shutdown on Dec. 16, significant obstacles remain. Both Republicans and Democrats are pushing their own priorities ahead of the new Congress taking office in January. 

GOP lawmakers are aiming for a short-term funding bill that keeps the government afloat until mid-January when Republicans take control of the House. The maneuver would give Republicans more power to demand concessions from Democrats and President Biden on administration policy. 

'A deal that vanquished poison pills and went to January would enhance the leverage of Republicans to dictate policy terms,' said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

Democrats prefer a year-long budget bill that increases government spending. They say that a year-long deal will allow the U.S. to tackle the geopolitical threats posed by Russia and China, while simultaneously ensuring a boost to government services as recession fears loom. 

'This isn’t an easy process, but it’s important, nonetheless,' said Schumer last week. 'For the well-being of our troops, for the preservation of our national security, for the tens of millions of Americans who look to the federal government for a wide range of basic services, Democrats and Republicans must work together to fully fund the federal government.'

Despite the standoff, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., said bipartisan negotiations were making progress. Democrats initially were poised to release their own year-long budget deal this week, but that was scrapped last minute. 

'Chairman Leahy feels that sufficient progress in negotiations took place over the weekend to delay the introduction of the omnibus appropriations bill for the time being,' said a Democratic Senate aide. 'Bipartisan and bicameral negotiations continue.' 

Most of the holdup centers on the evenly split Senate, where at least 60 votes will be needed to prevent a shutdown. Within the chamber, Republicans are pushing for parity in defense and social spending programs.

Both sides have agreed to appropriate nearly $858 billion for defense over the next fiscal year, but Democrats want nearly $885 billion for domestic programs. 

Senate Republican Whip John Thune, R-S.D., argued that social spending does not need to be expanded since the recently passed $739 billion Inflation Reduction Act already boosted domestic expenditures. 

'Democrats want to play games to increase the amount of non-defense discretionary spending,' said Thune.

Hanging over the negotiations are concerns that a GOP-controlled House will not have the votes next year to pass a year-long budget. Republicans are only set to hold a narrow majority within the chamber. 

Conservatives within the House Freedom Caucus are already lining up against more military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. The White House has requested nearly $38 billion in new Ukraine aid. 

Earlier this year, 57 Republicans in the House and 11 in the Senate opposed providing further aid to Ukraine unless the administration put sufficient accountability measures in place to prevent corruption.

'Americans deserve to know where all of that money went,' said Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. 'It's time for a thorough audit.'

Some Democrats say the looming GOP opposition makes it all the more important for Congress to pass a year-long budget before January.

Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

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