Capitol Correspondence - 11.21.23

President Biden Signs Short-Term Funding Measure to Avert Government Shutdown

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On Friday, President Biden signed a short-term continuing resolution (CR), described by some as a “ladder CR,” extending government funding until after the holidays. The CR—which received broad bipartisan support—was cleared by the Senate with an 87-11 vote late Wednesday.

The resolution faced some last-minute challenges, including a demand by Senate Armed Services ranking member Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), to vote on sending the annual defense policy bill to a formal conference with the House. This issue momentarily slowed down the time agreement for votes on the CR.

In a bipartisan spirit, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), agreed to a vote on an amendment from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), despite the Senate ultimately rejecting the proposal. Schumer also agreed to a 60-vote threshold for the CR’s passage, expediting the process without posing a threat to the stopgap funding measure.

The House had previously passed Speaker Mike Johnson’s bill with a 336-95 vote, setting the stage for President Biden’s expected signature ahead of the November 17 deadline when the first stopgap funding law would have expired.

Looking ahead, the next funding deadline is January 19, which will potentially affect agencies covered by the Agriculture, Energy-Water, Military Construction-VA, and Transportation-HUD bills. Funding for agencies covered by the other eight bills expires on February 2.

Speaker Johnson has expressed a commitment to avoid further short-term funding measures, emphasizing the need for both chambers to collaborate on final fiscal 2024 appropriations ahead of the looming deadlines. However, challenges arise as House Republicans diverge on spending limits, particularly with the absence of a unified topline budget target. The Senate’s bipartisan bills exceed the spending limits set by the spring debt limit suspension law, while the House’s partisan bills fall below, creating a roughly $75 billion gap. Negotiations between the Senate and House subcommittees are underway, with the need for a unified topline target and joint subcommittee allocations to make progress towards a bicameral deal.

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