- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Senate approved a stopgap bill Thursday to fund the federal government through Dec. 16, a move that puts Congress on course to avoid a shutdown ahead of a midnight Friday fiscal deadline.

The House is expected to swiftly pass the spending bill without fanfare, potentially as early as Thursday, in order to get it to President Biden’s desk for his signature by the Friday night funding cliff.

The measure passed 72-25 in the Senate. All 25 “no” votes were Republicans who objected to tens of billions in additional tranches of money that were attached. Those include more than $12 billion for Ukraine, nearly $5 billion for natural disasters throughout the U.S. and $20 million for the water sanitation crisis that has afflicted Jackson, Mississippi, among many other items.

The vote came after Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, abandoned earlier this week his endeavor to attach permitting reform that sought to fast-track energy projects. His retreat set up a clear path for the temporary funding measure to glide through Congress.

The controversial proposal, which united Democrats and Republicans in opposition, was part of a deal Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer had struck with Mr. Manchin in exchange for his vital support of the party’s tax-and-climate spending bill signed into law last month.

Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, and the moderate Mr. Manchin have vowed to give energy permitting reform another effort after the November midterms, but will again face strong headwinds from both sides of the aisle.

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The House is slated to approve the government funding bill with ease, despite dozens of Republicans who are also prepared to vote against it.

In addition to opposing what they deem “extraneous” policy riders like money for Mexico’s military, the National Institutes of Health, and diversity and equity training programs, Republicans want a stopgap measure that will last into January. That would give a potential GOP majority in January the power of the purse, rather than negotiating an annual budget under a Democratic administration that will need approval before funding again runs out on Dec. 16.

Most of GOP leadership in the Senate — where Republican buy-in is required to get over the 60-vote threshold — has so far not shown a willingness to engage in a showdown over pushing the annual appropriations process into the new Congress. But that hasn’t stopped some Republicans from exerting pressure.

“Failure to stand strong against lame-duck spending and caving to the Democrats will likely worsen inflation, prolong the current economic recession, and advance policies contained in the Biden administration’s progressive wish list,” 14 Republican senators, led by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, wrote in a letter to colleagues last week.

A similar effort is being led by Rep. Chip Roy of Texas among House Republicans, some of whom have accused their Senate counterparts of caving to Democrats.

“As Congress prepares to vote on yet another measure that will continue to fund this administration, Republicans should take a hard look at exactly how these dollars are being used,” Mr. Roy said in a letter. “Each time we vote to ‘fund the government,’ we are voting to provide funding to each one of these terrible agencies, programs, and policies.”

Conservative groups such as Heritage Action have also put increasing pressure on Capitol Hill Republicans to “stand up for voters and protect our country from a third year of Biden, Schumer and [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi’s agenda.”

If Republicans have a strong showing at the ballot box and regain control of at least one chamber, more GOP lawmakers are expected to join the push for passing a budget in January under the new Congress.

• Mica Soellner contributed to this report.

• Ramsey Touchberry can be reached at rtouchberry@washingtontimes.com.

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