As the Senate this week began floor debate on bills to fund the government, Democratic leaders called for bicameral discussions to reconcile competing spending allocations for the 12 annual appropriations measures.
Given the slow pace of the appropriations process, lawmakers are acknowledging that a second stopgap spending bill will likely be needed to extend funding for agencies when the current temporary funding runs out on Nov. 21.
“I would always prefer no CR. But what’s staring us in the face is Nov. 21. That’s not far off,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL).
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters this week that the House and Senate are far apart on a compromise. “I’m very concerned about the appropriations process,” Hoyer said. “[Compromise] does not appear to be present at this point.”
Democrats are particularly concerned about Senate spending allocations that they say would underfund the Labor-HHS-Education bill and divert more money to the construction of the border wall supported by the Trump White House.
The Senate is moving ahead on non-controversial spending bills first and approved a procedural move Oct. 22 to begin debate on four spending bills for the departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development and Interior and Justice. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) supported that move but said Senate Democrats will oppose taking up the Senate’s Defense bill next because of President Trump’s plan to divert military funding to the border wall.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested that Senate Democrats are more interested in opposing Republicans and President Trump than they are in funding the government. “Soon we’ll be voting on appropriations and we’ll see whether our Democratic friends really can put aside their impeachment obsession long enough to get some real work done on the side,” McConnell said.