Senate Democrats release short-term government funding bill
The Senate Appropriations Committee late Monday night released the text of a 237-page bill to fund the government until mid-December that includes Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) controversial permitting reform bill, making good on a deal Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) struck with Manchin this summer.
The continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government beyond Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, would last until Dec. 16, if it’s approved by the Senate and House and signed by President Biden.
But the inclusion of Manchin’s permitting reform measure creates a potential stumbling block as Senate Republican leaders are urging their GOP colleagues to vote against it and instead support a more comprehensive permitting reform bill sponsored by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) praised the bill for keeping “vital services running for the American people through Dec. 16” and providing “critical support for Ukraine.”
But the most senior Senate Democrat expressed disappointment that Manchin’s permitting reform proposal was included.
“This is a controversial matter that should be debated on its own merits,” he said in a statement.
The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday on a House “shell” bill that, if advanced, would serve as the legislative vehicle for the combined government funding resolution and permitting reform bill.
Senate sources say Manchin will have a tough time getting the dozen or so Republicans he needs to vote for the procedural motion. Two members of the Democratic caucus, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), have said they won’t vote for Manchin’s bill.
Business groups, however, seem open to Manchin’s proposal, which the West Virginia senator defended on Monday as moving “the needle” on permitting reform in the right direction.
Manchin, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, warned in a Fox News interview Monday that his bill would probably be Congress’s best opportunity to pass permitting reform for the foreseeable future.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday endorsed both proposals. The prominent business group praised Manchin’s bill as “thoughtful legislation that makes material improvements to the permitting process that can pass Congress right now” though it acknowledged the legislation “isn’t perfect.”
For example, the CR includes Manchin’s proposal to expand the federal government’s power to increase the permitting of transmission lines found by the secretary of Energy to be in the national interest.
The continuing resolution also includes $11.54 billion in military assistance for Ukraine to continue fighting off Russia’s invasion of its territory and an additional $4.5 billion to maintain the operations of Ukraine’s government.
The defense money includes $3 billion for training, equipment, weapons, logistical support and supplies for Ukraine’s national security forces, $1.5 billion to replenish U.S. stocks of equipment provided to Ukraine, $2.8 billion to the Department of Defense for other military and intelligence support and $3.7 billion worth of defense articles from U.S. arsenals.
Additionally, the legislation includes another section to reauthorize the Food and Drug Administration’s drug user fee program and its medical device user fee program through 2027.
–Updated at 7:26 a.m.