Republicans Fume As Democrats Ramrod Lame-Duck Spending Bill Forward

As Congress is scrambling yet again at the last minute to avoid another government shutdown with a funding bill due by a deadline on Friday, lawmakers from both parties appeared to make a deal on a framework late on Tuesday.

Negotiators in the House and Senate said the deal calls for a new $1.65 trillion spending bill. In advance of that bill, both chambers are expected to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government at existing spending levels through December 23. That would give lawmakers additional time to work out the final details of the longer-term bill.

Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said Tuesday evening that the agreement “provides a path forward to enact an omnibus next week.” She added that the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will now be “working around the clock” to complete the details of the 2023 spending bill before the end of next week.

House Republicans have generally spoken against an omnibus spending bill that would be passed this month before the GOP takes control of the House on January 3. Many favor a slightly longer CR that will fund the government through mid-January, so a GOP-controlled House, as elected by the American people last month, would have greater leverage in negotiating longer-term spending priorities.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) sent a notice to House Republicans Tuesday night that said: “Once again, House Democrats failed to meet the fundamental duty of funding the government despite spending most of the year passing trillions in wasteful spending that has fueled inflation and driven up our debt.”

In urging members not to support a one-week CR, Scalise said the move by Democrats is only 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.”

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that any agreement on an omnibus spending bill must be brought before the Senate by December 22 to be voted on this year. He said, “We intend to be on the road going home on the 23rd. We intend not to be back here between Christmas and New Year’s, and if we can’t meet that deadline, we would be happy to pass a short-term CR into early next year.”

As usual, Democrats will work to use the threat of a government shutdown just before Christmas as leverage to force through massive discretionary spending on their pet projects.