Top Senate Republican: Congress ‘probably’ headed for third stopgap bill to prevent shutdown

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) speaks to reporters in the basement of the Capitol on his way to a votes regarding judicial nominations on Wednesday, February 2, 2022.
Greg Nash

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), top ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, suggested on Thursday that Congress could have to pass another stopgap bill to keep the government funded after current funding is set to lapse later this month.

Shelby told reporters on Thursday afternoon he thinks Congress is “probably headed” for another continuing resolution (CR), which will allow the government to remain funded at the previous year’s fiscal levels, as a mid-February deadline looms.

Pressed about the duration of a potential continuing resolution, Shelby said leadership will need to come to an agreement on the matter.

“That’d be up to [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer and [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell to work that out. But if it’s a short term [continuing resolution] that would mean probably that we’re making some progress,” Shelby said.

Under the continuing resolution passed in early December, the government will remain funded under fiscal year 2021 spending levels through Feb. 18. The bill’s passage came months after Congress passed another continuing resolution in late September, shortly before fiscal year 2022 began on Oct. 1.

The Democratic-led House has passed nine out of 12 appropriations bills to fund the government so far. However, none of the bills 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 pushing for a potential deal on an omnibus spending package for fiscal 2022, which began in October.

The months-long holdup comes as lawmakers have struggled to reach bipartisan agreement on a number of issues including parity between Defense and nondefense spending and legislative riders. 

Leadership has also spent a lot of effort in recent months tackling other spending battles over top priority items like the nation’s debt limit, on top of the legislative time Democrats have devoted to party-line negotiations on President Biden’s Build Back Better proposal.

As talks drag out, some lawmakers have expressed concerns about the likelihood of a full-year continuing resolution if Congress isn’t able to pass an omnibus soon – an idea that members on both sides of the aisle oppose.

“Anytime we do a CR [continuing resolution], we’re saying we can’t get down and do our actual work,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) told The Hill on Thursday. “We ought to sit down and stay here all weekend. Write a bill, do the actual thing.”

Tags Continuing resolution Defense spending government funding Government shutdown Joe Biden Patrick Leahy Richard Shelby

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