House GOP preparing another stopgap to fund government to Christmas

House Republicans are crafting another stopgap spending measure to buy yet more time for Congress to agree on federal funding for the rest of the fiscal year, GOP Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (Ky.) said Wednesday.

The current fiscal year began on Oct. 1, and because the House and Senate have failed to pass full-year spending bills, the federal government has been operating on a string of continuing resolutions.

Congress will likely need at least one more, Rogers acknowledged to reporters. Current funding runs out on Nov. 18, and the next continuing resolution would carry over until just before the Christmas break, he said.

The House and Senate have yet to agree on a single appropriations bill of the 12 in total. The Senate is on track to approve a package of three appropriations bills, rolled into what is being called a “minibus,” as early as Tuesday. That package includes funding for the departments of Commerce, Justice, Agriculture, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

The minibus would then go to a conference committee, where a continuing resolution could be added. Rogers also raised the possibility that the House could add one or two of the appropriations bills it has already passed to the minibus. He would not say which ones.

The continuing resolution would include funding for all departments and agencies except those financed in the minibus. All remaining appropriations bills would be completed after Thanksgiving, either in one large package or a series of minibuses. Aides have said House Republicans preferred a single omnibus, while the Senate prefers the minibus approach because it allows for more amendments.

“We want to finish all of our bills by the Christmas break,” Rogers said.

He emphasized that “none of this is set in concrete.”

One significant remaining hurdle are policy restrictions, known as riders, that Republicans have proposed in a number of appropriations bills. The No. 2 House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), is collecting signatures on a letter for Democrats to oppose all “partisan” policy riders.

“There are landmines every inch of the way,” Rogers said.