Democrats delay release of omnibus bill, buoying hopes of spending deal

Senate Defense
Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., left, and ranking member Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., talk before a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing to examine proposed budget estimates and justification for fiscal year 2022 for the Department of Defense in Washington on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Caroline Brehman/Pool via AP) (Caroline Brehman/AP)

Democrats delay release of omnibus bill, buoying hopes of spending deal

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Lawmakers apparently made enough headway in discussions over the weekend that Democrats scrapped plans to introduce their own versions of a yearlong omnibus to fund the government.

Government funding expires on Friday at midnight, although Congress is expected to extend government funding to Dec. 23 to provide more time for a deal to emerge. Democrats had been threatening to introduce both measures to try to force Republicans’ hands in the negotiations.


However, discussions were productive enough that Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) pulled back from a plan to introduce a Democratic-written funding bill on Monday. That bill had no chance of passage as Republicans had rejected it.

“Chairman Leahy feels that sufficient progress in negotiations took place over the weekend to delay the introduction of the omnibus appropriations bill for the time being. Bipartisan and bicameral negotiations continue,” a Senate Democratic aide told Punchbowl News.

Although Democrats control both chambers, they need at least 10 Senate GOP votes to defeat a filibuster on a funding bill. Democrats and Republicans still have not agreed on top-line spending numbers for the bill that will fund the federal government through the fiscal year that ends in September 2023; without those numbers, appropriators cannot finalize the legislation’s finer details.

Republicans do not want to agree to equal spending increases for both defense and nondefense programs, pointing to the fact that Democrats already got funding for progressive initiatives in the Inflation Reduction Act. Democrats are arguing that Republicans are not giving enough funding to veterans programs and other social safety net initiatives.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), who heads an Appropriations subcommittee, tweeted Monday that he was feeling “increasingly optimistic that they can land an omnibus spending bill.”


Many Republicans are starting to push for a continuing resolution that would fund the government at current levels until January when the GOP will take the majority in the House and give the party greater control over the budget.

Last week, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) told reporters that negotiators were about $25 billion apart, which is only 1.7% of last year’s spending.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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