White House puts pressure on Congress to pass bipartisan government funding bills

Associated Press/Evan Vucci

The White House is putting some heat on Congress to strike a deal on the annual government funding bills as negotiations across the aisle have failed to make much headway in recent months.

The Office of Budget and Management (OMB) said in a fact sheet sent out on Friday that Congress must “reach a bipartisan, bicameral agreement” on full-year appropriations bills for fiscal 2022 in the weeks ahead.

The bills, the office said, will be crucial in addressing the nation’s “critical needs,” including funding to “improve readiness for future public health crises,” bolster defense readiness and modernization, provide “overdue investments in election infrastructure,” support kids in high-poverty schools and “ensure access to student loans and student aid.”

While the office acknowledged annual appropriations bills brought forth by Democrats in the House and Senate to fund the government for the coming year, it said it “looks forward to seeing a proposal from House and Senate Republicans” to continue bipartisan negotiations.

As government funding for fiscal 2021 was set to lapse at the end of September, Congress passed a stopgap bill in the eleventh hour to keep the government funded at the previous year’s spending levels to buy time for negotiations. 

The legislation allows the government to remain funded through early December. Congress is expected to pass another continuing resolution (CR) in the next few weeks to avoid a shutdown amid a stalemate between Republicans and Democrats over spending.

Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said last week that a CR will likely be needed for December while decrying so-called poison pills in Democratic spending proposals.

“If there’s no progress then we could be headed for a yearly CR. A lot of people would like that,” he told reporters then.

But Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who heads the Appropriations Committee, said at the time that resorting to multiple continuing resolutions “is not a responsible way to govern.”

“Republicans seem to want to drive us into a full year continuing resolution,” he said. “Democrats made a good faith offer last month that provided a 5 percent increase in defense spending, which is consistent with the bipartisan NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act], but it takes two to negotiate.”

“We still have not received a topline offer in response to ours,” Leahy said.

The OMB also cautioned against a full-year CR in its release on Friday.

“Reaching an agreement on appropriations, and avoiding the continuation of 2021 funding levels under a full-year continuing resolution (CR), is critical for priorities,” the office said.

“Congress has a long history of reaching bipartisan appropriations agreements that benefit the American people and fund critical public health services. Over the coming weeks, lawmakers have an opportunity and obligation to do so again,” the office added.

Tags appropriations bills Office of Budget and Management Patrick Leahy Richard Shelby
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