House Democrats warned Republicans on Tuesday that the clock is ticking, with only 18 legislative days left before the deadline to fund the government.
“A mere 18 legislative days remain before the end of the fiscal year,” Rep. Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyLobbying world Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Biden needs to tear down bureaucratic walls and refocus Middle East programs MORE (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said at a news conference.
Congress must pass a new funding package by Oct. 1 or the government will shut down.
Lowey warned “zero of the 12 bills” Republicans have marked up and passed through committee “can and will be enacted into law” because they adhere to sequestration spending caps that are scheduled to take effect.
“I’ve said I will veto any budget that locks in the sequester. It is not good for our country,” President Obama reiterated in a speech to veterans Tuesday.
“We need a new budget agreement that replaces irresponsible austerity caps on both defense and nondefense investments with a balanced mix of closing loopholes and tax expenditures and mandatory savings that do not cut critical benefits,” Lowey told reporters.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) struck that sort of deal in December 2013 when they served as the chairmen of the Budget panels. That agreement expires at the end of September.
Democrats have demanded for months that Republicans come to the negotiating table to reach a similar budget deal, but GOP leaders have so far rejected their requests.
“It's as if the Republican leadership is paddling calmly down the river with a huge waterfall ahead, and the fact that they’re not scrambling to come to the table, and work this out, suggests they’re perfectly happy with a government shutdown,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), top Democrat of the House Budget Committee, who’s running for Senate next year.
Lowey suggested passing a continuing resolution (CR) at the end of September — which extends 2015 funding — is inevitable.
The benefit of a CR, she said, is that there wouldn’t be “ugly riders” on gun control and the environment, but it wouldn’t provide “adequate” funding for the future.
“These are real people these budget cuts are affecting,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a member of both the Appropriations and Budget panels.
Without a new budget deal, Lee warned the cuts that would take effect would “disproportionately” affect low-income people and families.
“We need to end the sequester now," she said.
Budget experts predict lawmakers will likely pass a CR to keep the government funded at the end of September and hold negotiations closer to Thanksgiving or Christmas for a new budget deal, 2016 spending and an increase in the debt ceiling.