President Joe Biden on Sept. 30 signed into law a continuing resolution (CR), likely averting the nation from a government shutdown with just hours to spare.
The legislation passed the House of Representatives earlier in the day by a mostly party-line vote of 230–201, but with the support of 10 Republicans. The evening before, the Senate approved the temporary budget by a bipartisan vote of 72–25.
The CR, which maintains current spending levels through Dec. 16, also provides some $12.3 billion in additional U.S. aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia.
The funding measure adds $1 billion more for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and $2 billion in emergency disaster aid assistance. There are also provisions making $2.5 billion available in compensation for victims of a devastating New Mexico wildfire, $20 million to deal with the Jackson, Mississippi, municipal water system crisis, and $112 million for enhanced security at federal courthouses.
The CR would add $19 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) coffers in the wake of severe damage in Puerto Rico and Florida from Hurricane Ian. The storm also is expected to cause additional flooding in the Carolinas and Virginia as it heads up the Atlantic Coast after pummeling Florida.
Because the CR only keeps the government open until Dec. 16, the current Congress will return after the Nov. 8 election for a “lame duck” session that will be dominated by debate over an omnibus spending bill to complete the 2023 federal budget.
The omnibus measure will provide Democrats of the 117th Congress their last opportunity to set federal spending levels for 2023 and thereafter. The 118th Congress convenes on Jan. 3, 2023.
Passed Over GOP Opposition
The measure passed the lower chamber against strong GOP opposition.
For weeks, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) has led a behind-the-scenes effort to oppose any CR put forward by Democrats that would expire before Jan. 3. Such a CR, Republicans warned, would allow Democrats to continue to fund President Joe Biden’s “failed agenda” over the wishes of a potential GOP House majority.
“Any spending that expires before [Jan. 3] would allow Dems to tie Republicans’ hands next congress,” explained Roy in a statement on Twitter. “Voters will have fired Speaker Pelosi, but she could still decide all government funding for FY2023.”
In a memo (pdf) to members of the Republican Study Committee, chairman Jim Banks (R-Ind.) echoed Roy, writing that the “sun is setting” on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) speakership.
At the time, Banks warned that Pelosi was hoping for a “last hurrah” by hijacking the CR with provisions that would not be supported by Republicans.
Because the CR passed with a Dec. 16 deadline, Democrats will indeed have one last chance to set budgetary levels for next year, but Republicans are likely to oppose any of Democrats’ most ambitious appropriations—particularly if the party takes back the lower chamber in November.
Because Republicans are currently in the minority in the lower chamber, there is little they could have done to counter a CR that makes wide-reaching changes to spending levels or ends before Jan. 3.
Still, Republicans in the Senate could be a headache for Democrats come December.
In an op-ed for Fox News, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) demanded a clean CR without extra baggage and called for Republicans to stand resilient against any efforts to include broad new spending.
“It’s time for Republicans to stand united and demand that Congress pass a clean continuing resolution (CR) that simply maintains current federal spending levels—and not a penny more—until a new Congress begins,” they wrote.
The CR passed on Sept. 30 came to fruition after some negotiation between Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Braun had put forward an amendment offering a balanced budget as part of the CR. Braun later let the vote go ahead in the Senate after Schumer granted him 10 minutes of floor time to pitch the proposal.
Braun told reporters that Republicans “have to be for something that we stand for, and we got to all be willing to pay for it without borrowing from future generations, which we’re currently doing.”
But if Democrats try to reach too far with the next CR, it could be harder for Democrats to overcome Senate GOP objections, which could tank any effort Democrats put forward.
Mark Tapscott contributed to this report.
Update: This article has been updated with the latest details.
From The Epoch Times