Even though leaders of both political parties in Congress have agreed to a top-line spending limit for the next omnibus spending bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Thursday that it’s “crystal clear” congress will need to pass a short-term funding bill to avert a federal government shutdown.
On Thursday, Schumer said the Senate will take up a vote on a short-term spending bill, as he doesn’t believe Congress has a shot to pass every regular spending bill by the deadline of January 19.
After the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday on Monday, the Senate will take a vote on a shell bill that would allow the federal government to keep operating as normal beyond next week.
On January 19, funding will expire for the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs, as well as military construction. Funding for all other federal agencies and departments is set to expire as of February 2.
As Schumer commented recently:
“The most immediate need in the calendar is avoiding a government shutdown and fully funding the government for fiscal year 2024. A shutdown is looming over us.
“Unfortunately, it has become crystal clear that it will take more than a week to finish the appropriations process. So, today, I am taking the first procedural step for the Senate to pass a temporary extension of government funding so the government does not shut down.”
Schumer didn’t specify how long that temporary stopgap funding might last, or whether that bill would end up covering all the departments that will run out of funding as of February 2.
Last year, House Speaker Mike Johnson insisted that the federal government departments be split up into two different groups, with each having different deadlines for funding. His thought process was that doing so would reduce the chance that Congress would be forced to pass an enormous omnibus spending bill just to avert another government shutdown.
In November, Johnson added he was “done” with passing CRs, or short-term continuing resolutions, that just end up punting decisions on big spending down the line either a few weeks or a few months.
Unfortunately for him, it looks like that’s going to be the only option in this case.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the chamber’s minority leader, admitted as much this week, saying:
“Obviously, we’re going to have to pass a CR.”
On Sunday, Schumer and Johnson announced a top-line spending package that will total $1.5 trillion. Even though that agreement is in place, there’s still plenty of work to be done on each of the individual spending bills before all is said and done.
That’s expected to be a tough process, especially as members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus are not at all happy that the proposed budget doesn’t include the massive cuts in spending that they were hoping for.
Despite that immediate kickback, Johnson said this week that he stands by the agreement he made with Schumer.