Democrats block GOP proposal to freeze federal funding until 2023
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Tuesday blocked a request to pass a continuing resolution to essentially freeze federal spending until 2023, when Republicans will control the House.
Democrats opposed the push by a group of Senate conservatives led by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Leahy objected to a unanimous consent request to move the GOP measure.
The Republicans have pushed for Congress to pass a stop-gap spending measure lasting until 2023 instead of a year-end omnibus bill that would increase defense and non-defense discretionary spending levels.
Negotiations between Democrats and Republicans are continuing on that omnibus package.
Lee has argued that recent practice has been to punt big spending decisions into a new Congress when a party loses control of the House, as Democrats did last month.
“Since 1954, the party in control of the House of Representatives has shifted from one party to another a total of just five times,” he said “And [in] exactly zero of those instances did Congress come back after that election and during a lame-duck session enact sweeping comprehensive spending legislation,” Lee said on the floor.
He then asked the Senate to unanimously approve a stop-gap government-funding measure until Feb. 3, which he said would give the incoming House GOP majority a chance to negotiate the size and priorities of the spending package.
He said doing so would “ensure that we listen to the people’s voices and that the incoming House majority has the opportunity to make the spending decisions that are in the best interests of the American people.”
Leahy, however, objected to the request, arguing that it would lead to a $7.5 billion funding shortfall for Veterans Affairs’ medical care and will leave $76 billion for national defense “on the Republican cutting room floor.”
He also called the short-term continuing resolution a “dereliction of our sworn duty” and “a failure for the American people.”
Lee’s proposal got the support of Scott, who spoke on the floor after Leahy’s objection.
He slammed the omnibus for adding tens of billions of dollars to the debt and dismissed it as the “Pelosi-Schumer” spending bill, in reference to outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“We should be saying no to a massive omnibus spending bill and approve the simple continuing resolution being offered by my good friend, Sen. Lee of Utah. This allows a new Congress to put together a real budget that’s balanced, which is what we should be doing anyway,” he said.
Scott has clashed with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who supports passing a year-end omnibus, over GOP strategy on a spending measure.
He challenged McConnell in a race for Senate GOP leader last month, earning 10 out of 48 votes.
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