GOP makes new offer in funding talks

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) speaks to reporters as he arrives to the Capitol for a vote on Tuesday, July 27, 2021.
Greg Nash

Senate Republicans pitched a new offer to Democrats in government funding talks, signaling a step forward in negotiations as leaders face a time crunch with weeks remaining until current funds are set to lapse.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters on Wednesday that Republicans made an offer, which Democrats are considering as negotiations continue. 

Shelby didn’t provide further details on what the offer entailed but said negotiators could hunker down to make headway on a spending deal at some point in the afternoon. 

“We could meet later today,” he said. “We’re gonna be here tonight.”

Shelby’s remarks come as leaders have struggled for months to reach a bipartisan agreement on a top-line spending number, with lingering disagreements on legislative riders such as the Hyde amendment.

Lawmakers have until Feb. 18 to pass legislation to fund the government for fiscal 2022 or opt for another continuing resolution, which would keep the current funding at the previous fiscal year’s spending levels. 

So far, the House, where Democrats hold the majority, has passed nine out of 12 appropriations bills to fund the government. But none have passed the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats would need to fetch at least 10 votes from Republicans to bypass a likely filibuster to secure passage for such legislation.

Currently, top lawmakers are eyeing a potential deal on an omnibus spending package for fiscal 2022, which began in October, as the February deadline draws nearer.

Members on both sides of the aisle are hopeful negotiators will be able to secure a bipartisan agreement in time to avert a continuing resolution, particularly as concerns mount over the prospect of a full-year continuing resolution if talks drag on.

“I hope it happens soon. It’s gonna take some time to get it written,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a member of the Senate appropriations panel, told The Hill, though he called continued meetings between negotiators a “good sign” that progress is being made.

If lawmakers aren’t able to pass a larger spending bill by Feb. 18, they’re expected to approve another continuing resolution to avert a shutdown. Should they do so, it will mark the third time lawmakers have had to take such measures since talks began last year.

–Updated on Feb. 3 at 10:23 a.m.

Tags government funding Jon Tester Richard Shelby

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