‘Tis the season for budget crunches on Capitol Hill. Once again, government funding runs out Friday night and lawmakers face a deadline to prevent a Christmas shutdown of federal offices, set spending levels through September and get the heck out of town.
Congressional appropriators worked through the weekend to finalize the massive package containing the 12 annual spending bills and other legislation — and, as of Monday evening, they were reportedly just about ready to unveil the text, expected to run thousands of pages long.
“Appropriators are racing around the clock to finish the last major item on our to-do list for 2022: an omnibus package that will keep the government funded into next fall,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor Monday afternoon. “Despite having a little more work to do, the omnibus continues heading in the right direction. We must wrap the whole process up and vote on final passage before the end of the week. It won’t be easy, but we are working hard so we can get it done before the end of the week and be with our families for Christmas.”
The details of the package are likely to face some criticism once they are released, as it the process for passing the bill. House Republicans have railed against Senate Republicans for working with Democrats to pass full-year funding legislation this year rather than waiting until 2023, when the GOP will control the House and could have leverage to force spending cuts. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Monday defended the year-end package and portrayed it as a win for Republicans, who appear to have successfully pushed back on Democratic demands for “parity” in spending increases for defense and non-defense programs.
“This bill will grow defense spending and cut non-defense, non-veteran spending after inflation,” McConnell said. “This is a strong outcome of Republicans and, much more importantly, it’s the outcome that our nation’s security actually needs.”
Quote of the Day
“If we’re successful, we’ll have probably done them a favor. There probably won’t be much thanks for it.”
− Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee and a key negotiator of the massive year-end spending bill, as quoted by Politico on House Republicans and others in his party who have been criticizing the spending bill and had hoped to push off the budget deal until next year, when their party controls the House. Shelby, Politico reports, “thinks his work will help save the House GOP majority from itself next year, staving off months of bitter infighting over federal spending bills.”
McConnell on Monday paid tribute to Shelby, who is retiring after 36 years in the Senate and eight years before that in the House. “People around the Senate like to say that Richard Shelby doesn’t just see down the road,” he said. “He sees down the road and also around the corner.” Which means he’s likely right about House Republicans.