Top lawmakers to start government funding talks
A group of top lawmakers are preparing to meet for the first time to discuss fiscal 2023 government funding as they eye the end of the year as an unofficial deadline to get a deal.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, told The Hill that he will meet with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the top Republican on the panel, on Thursday.
It will mark the first time the top four appropriators have met to talk about the next round of government funding.
Technically Congress has until Sept. 30 to fund the government, with the 2023 fiscal year starting on Oct. 1. But lawmakers frequently miss that deadline and use a short-term government funding bill to buy themselves more time. Congress didn’t pass its fiscal year 2022 funding deal until last month, using three continuing resolutions to kick the can.
But the real deadline for the talks is the end of the current Congress, which runs through the first days of January 2023. Control of both the House and Senate are up for grabs in November. Republicans are confident in their ability to flip the House and feeling increasingly optimistic about netting the one seat they need to flip the 50-50 Senate.
That could put pressure on Democrats to try to cut a funding deal by the end of the year to try to lock in their spending priorities for another fiscal year. It would also take a significant fight off the plate of the new Congress if appropriators can cut a deal this year and give Shelby and Leahy, who are both retiring, one final significant victory.
Shelby acknowledged that getting a deal before the November election could be difficult, but they could “put a lot of stuff in place” for potential year-end discussions.
“If we can work come together. If we can work our defense numbers. If we can work the others … but the question is can we do that,” Shelby said.
Shelby added that the chance that both the House and Senate could flip is “all part of the equation.”
“Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. For everybody, if they can. Because you start over with another Congress, absolutely,” Shelby said, asked if it would be beneficial to get a deal by the end of the year.
But getting a government funding deal could be a heavy lift.
Republicans are already making it clear that they want a higher defense number than President Biden’s proposed $813.3 billion defense budget. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who will become majority leader next year if Republicans flip the Senate, has pushed for the next government funding deal to increase defense spending by five percent above inflation.
“President Biden must lead by example. The president’s next budget request must include at least a 5 percent increase in defense spending above inflation. Russia and China have prioritized military modernization literally for decades,” McConnell said earlier this year before Biden released his budget.