The House passed a stopgap spending bill Wednesday night that gives negotiators an extra week to finish a $1.7 trillion year-end spending package, setting up an all-out legislative sprint before lawmakers leave for the holidays. The temporary funding patch, approved in a 224-201 vote, holds off a government shutdown Friday at midnight and extends federal spending through December 23rd. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said the Senate could pass the measure as soon as Thursday. The House vote on the stopgap comes after leading appropriators finally cemented a deal Tuesday night on a bipartisan framework to pave the way for a sprawling year-end funding bill that would boost federal agency budgets for the current fiscal year. It’s an enormous lift for a Congress that has struggled to do anything on time, with critical issues like military readiness, Ukraine aid and Medicare cuts on the line. House Republicans largely voted against the one-week stopgap, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) is signaling opposition to a broader spending deal too, as the House GOP’s top appropriator, Representative Kay Granger (R-Texas), has not been involved in any negotiations. In addition to the Omnibus, Leader Schumer wants to wrap up action on the annual defense spending bill (NDAA) this week, but so far there aren’t votes slated on the bill. Leaders did run a hotline Wednesday to smoke out opposition to potentially expediting passage. The hotline included a scenario where two major amendments would get floor votes: Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-West Virginia ) proposal to overhaul permitting for energy projects Senators Ron Johnson’s (R-Wisconsin) and Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) amendment to reinstate troops kicked out for not complying with the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate and grant them back pay.
As the omnibus and NDAA play out, the Senate will spend the day working on nominations including Musetta Tia Johnson to be a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
The House is expected to complete work on H.R. 1948 – VA Employee Fairness Act of 2021 and H.R. 8393 – Puerto Rico Status Act.