Looming questions about federal funding are growing more ominous ahead of Congress’ year-end recess.
UPDATE: The House and Senate passed a one-week stopgap spending bill this week intended to avert a government shutdown through Dec. 23. On an upswing of productivity after overwhelming passage of the NDAA - now headed to the President's desk for signature - lawmakers are optimistic they will arrive at a consensus for a plan to fund the government at least through the spring.
D.C. is well on its way to checking out for the holidays, but Congress’ to do list looms large with as the outlook on federal funding grows more ominous.
The first sign of stormy weather in Washington this week started when the House stalled on introduction of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – a piece of legislation vital to securing and ensuring national security priorities, including defense contracting opportunities for small business. While NDAA has passed steadfastly for more than 80 years, due to back and forth on final amendments to be included in the must-pass legislation, its fate remains uncertain in the final days of the 117th Congress.
In addition to the NDAA, Congress must pass spending legislation by Dec. 16 which when the current continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government runs out. Despite the dark forecast, Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said he believes it is still possible to organize and pass an omnibus funding mechanism by the end of the year.
Sitting down over a difference of about $25 billion in party spending priorities, Sens. Shelby and Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) met with President Biden over a bipartisan lunch this week to discuss government funding.
While Sen. Shelby’s optimism and belief in regular order fiscal practices are laudable, passing the 12 standalone bills of an omnibus – one for each of the 12 congressional committees – is virtually impossible to do given ample time and certainly not a likelihood with just over a week to accomplish such a major task. As such, lawmakers are floating possibilities for short-term stopgap funding measures, like another CR.
Digging in heels, House Republicans are already pushing back on the idea of an omnibus spending bill, citing concerns over unchecked lame duck spending numbers and the downside of a failed omnibus package.
A third major concern is taking shape around the harsh reality of the House likely failing to rise to the occasion and pass a substantial spending package as the Republicans’ first task in Jan. following a switch in lower chamber leadership over the midterms.
NSBA will continue to closely follow the spending stalemate. Follow us, and check back here for updates this week and all December long.