Lawmakers Still Billions Apart on 2023 Spending

Lawmakers Still Billions Apart on 2023 Spending

Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein

Federal funding runs out in 10 days and lawmakers working on a deal to set government spending levels through next September reportedly remain far apart. “At the moment, Democrats are asking for about $26 billion overall more than GOP lawmakers are willing to give,” Politico reports.

Lawmakers also haven’t yet moved forward on the annual defense authorization bill, which has passed for 60 years straight.

“With regard to all the issues that are swirling around, let me just say that we’re at a pretty significant impasse,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said at a news conference Tuesday.

McConnell had told reporters a week ago that there was “widespread agreement” during a White House meeting between President Joe Biden and congressional leaders on the need to pass a so-called omnibus annual spending bill rather than a stopgap spending measure.

Republicans aren’t in agreement on that, though. House and Senate conservatives have urged McConnell to push for a short-term funding extension that would delay broader spending talks until after Republicans take control of the House next year and can exert more leverage over fiscal decisions.

“Wait till we’re in charge,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said during an appearance on Fox News Monday night. “We would be stronger in every negotiation, so any Republican that’s out there trying to work with them is wrong.”

McConnell on Tuesday said that a stopgap continuing resolution running into next year might be needed, though he insisted that suggestion was more about practical concerns than intraparty pressure.

“Time is ticking,” he said. “We have not been able to agree on a topline yet, and I think it’s becoming increasingly likely that we may need to do a short-term CR into early next year. We are running out of time and that may end up being the only option left that we could agree to pursue.

Incoming House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York told reporters that it’s too soon to look at punting spending talks into next year. Jeffries said there are still several weeks left in the year, “which is an eternity in Washington, D.C.” and that McConnell’s mention of a continuing resolution was “premature.”

Why it matters: “Without a deal,” Politico’s Caitlin Emma writes, “congressional leaders have warned that federal agencies could be saddled with stagnant budgets for the better part of 2023, an outcome that Pentagon leaders have said would be devastating for military readiness and U.S. assistance to Ukraine.”