Leaders in Congress are pitching a stopgap government funding package to avoid a federal shutdown after next month and acknowledged the Senate and House are far from any agreement on spending levels to keep national operations running.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy raised the idea of a months-long funding package, known as a continuing resolution, to House GOP on a Monday evening members-only call, according to those familiar with the private session who discussed it in anonymity.
Tuesday, Democrat Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the two leaders had spoken about the temporary measure. The measure would extend funding operations through December to allow additional time to work on the annual spending bills.
“I thought it was a good thing that he recognized that we need a CR,” said Sen. Schumer to reporters on a call.
“We hope that our House Republicans will realize that any funding resolution has to be bipartisan, or they will risk shutting down the government,” said Schumer.
A stopgap measure would keep the government running past the September 30 end of the fiscal year and is a strategy typically used while the GOP-held House and Democrat-held Senate try to come to a long-term budget agreement. The new fiscal year begins October 1, when approval for funding is needed to avert the closures of federal offices.
However, this year the task may prove more complicated politically. Speaker McCarthy must win over many of his GOP colleagues to pass the stopgap bill or risk political blowback with hardline conservatives if he leaves them behind and makes a bipartisan deal with Dems.
Conservatives, including many from House Freedom Caucus, are typically hesitant to support short-term funding measures as they press for steeper spending cuts, using the threat of a government shutdown as leverage.
Preparing for the political dynamics ahead, many in Congress are bracing for a shutdown.
“It’s clear President Biden and Speaker McCarthy want a government shutdown, so that’s what Congress will do after we return in September. Everyone should plan accordingly,” GOP Representative Tony Gonzales posted on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, shortly following the Monday call.
Both sides agreed to budget levels during the recent negotiations on the debt ceiling when McCarthy and Biden struck a deal establishing topline spending levels. However, McCarthy’s Republican majority rejects those amounts.
Olivia Dalton, White House Deputy press secretary, was asked Tuesday on Air Force One if the president is concerned about a government shutdown.
“We worked in good faith to negotiate a bipartisan budget agreement a couple of months ago,” said Dalton. “We’ve upheld our end of the bargain. They’ve upheld theirs so far. We can expect that to continue.”
White House would not confirm if Biden would sign a short-term resolution
“We don’t believe that there’s any reason we should have to have a government shutdown, that congressional Republicans should bring us to that point,” said Dalton. “We think that we can work together to meet the needs of our country and the urgent needs that we’ve put forward.”
House Freedom Caucus members have pushed to tie the government’s budget to conservative policy priorities on security and immigration at the U.S. border with Mexico, along with deeper spending cuts.
While some caucus members have embraced the idea of a government work stoppage to force lower spending, many members of the GOP disagree with that approach.
Republican Representative David Joyce oversees the subcommittee on Homeland Security on the Appropriations Committee, said, “Republicans must come together to advance these bills because we cannot risk a government shutdown. When we shut down our government, we communicate to our adversaries that America is vulnerable and threaten the security of our nation.”