Congress has officially entered crunch time to avoid the feared one-year continuing resolution (CR). Lawmakers face a Friday, December 16 deadline to avert a government shutdown. As the lame-duck session concludes, we will cover government spending, NDAA, and more.
Democrats reported the potential of releasing their own versions of a fiscal year 2023 omnibus spending package and a yearlong continuing resolution last week. After a weekend of progress, through negotiations, those plans were placed on hold. A spokesperson to Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) believes “sufficient progress in negotiations took place over the weekend to delay the introduction of the omnibus appropriations bill for the time being.” The topline negotiations center around $25 billion, a number that Republicans and Democrats are apart on non-defense spending. 25$ billion represents an otherwise small portion of the $1.7 trillion in funding but has left discussion in a stalemate. Republicans believe that Democrats funded specific non-defense priorities through the Inflation Reduction Act. As mentioned earlier, if lawmakers fail to pass an omnibus spending package, Congress would use a full-year CR as a contingency plan. The Department of Defense has shared letters with Congressional leaders about the pitfalls that would bring to the department’s operating abilities. Additionally, negotiators agreed to include earmarks if a year-long CR is a path that Congress chooses. While talks about topline numbers continue, Congress has until Friday at midnight to pass legislation to avoid a shutdown. Many expect a short-term CR either to December 23 or early next year. The short-term CR will give lawmakers enough time to work through the procedural and logistical hurdles of passing the bill through both chambers. Passing a spending bill is still the goal for all parties and chambers involved. We predict that Congress will pass an omnibus after a week-long extension to December 23.
Following the House-passage of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (HR 7776) on a vote of 350 - 85, the Senate will vote on the must-pass legislation this week. The NDAA features $858 billion in defense spending, an 8% increase from FY 2022 and $45 billion more than the White House requested. The NDAA includes a 4.6% pay raise for active-duty personnel, $800 million to Ukraine for military assistance, $10 billion in military aid to Taiwan over 10 years, and an overhaul to the military’s approach to sexual misconduct. The House version included a bipartisan amendment to end the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for service members. The Senate will work through amendments, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has yet to determine if he will allow a vote on permitting reform, a measure sought after by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) that would expedite the environmental review process for energy projects.
The House will consider 39 bills under suspension of the rules, including the Senate-passed Flood Level Observation, Operations, and Decision Support (FLOODS) Act (S 1617), which would authorize the Small Business Administration (SBA) to declare a disaster in rural areas impacted by significant damage and provide specific assistance. The House will also vote on the Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act of 2022 (H. R. 3648), which would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to expand its efforts to forecast floods and communicate with the public.
Various House and Senate committees will hold hearings this week, including a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on “The Department of the Interior’s Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on “Solutions to Meet America’s Broadband Needs” and the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on “Preparing for and Preventing the Next Public Health Emergency: Lessons Learned from the Coronavirus Crisis.”