Politics

/

ArcaMax

House passes two-tiered stopgap bill, the last one, in theory

Aidan Quigley, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed the short-term spending bill that will give lawmakers the time they need to put the finishing touches on fiscal 2024 appropriations and wrap up the process in the coming weeks.

Under suspension of the rules, which requires two-thirds of lawmakers’ support, the chamber passed the bill on a 320-99 vote. It will now head to the Senate, where that chamber could pass it as soon as later Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said.

“That will require all of us working together,” Schumer said Thursday morning. “There’s certainly no reason this should take a very long time. So, let’s cooperate and get it done quickly.”

The bill will set up a first tranche of spending bills that the House is expected to vote on next Wednesday: the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy-Water, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD measures.

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said Thursday that legislative text of that package would be released over the weekend. Text is expected to be released Sunday, which would set up a Wednesday vote in the House under the chamber’s 72-hour rule to give lawmakers sufficient time to consider the package.

The final contents of the bills are not yet clear, though it appears that the bills will not feature the big conservative policy wins House Republicans were pushing for. Schumer said Thursday that the package would not include “unacceptable poison-pill riders that we said would not fly.”

Still, Republicans are expected to claim credit for wins in the package even if they aren’t the most high-profile, culture war-related items that received most of the attention over the summer when the House was debating the bills.

“If you’re expecting a lot of home runs and grand slams here, I admit you’ll be disappointed. But we will be able to secure a number of policy victories,” Johnson told members on a conference call Friday, according to a source familiar with his comments. “These bills will be littered with singles and doubles that we should be proud of, especially in our small majority.”

House Interior-Environment Appropriations Chair Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said there were “not a lot” of riders in his bill, as many that House Republicans pushed for got dropped.

“The Democrats were never going to agree to a lot of those things,” he said. “But I think we got some good provisions. So did the Democrats, frankly. That’s kind of the nature of a compromise.”

How close is ‘close’?

The second batch of bills will be considered by the March 22 deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown, lawmakers have said. That package includes the Defense, Financial Services, Legislative Branch, Homeland Security, Labor-HHS-Education and State-Foreign Operations measures.

Sources are split on how close lawmakers are to reaching a deal on the second package. One person close to the talks said they were “close” and could be done “well in advance” of March 22.

Others were less optimistic about how near they actually are to finalizing that package, which includes the most controversial measures, specifically the Homeland Security and Labor-HHS-Education bills. Lawmakers are continuing to negotiate open issues, sources said.

House Financial Services Appropriations Chairman Steve Womack, R-Ark., said lawmakers are still negotiating his bill. He said while there is optimism about the first package of bills set to hit the floor next week, the trickier bills, including his, are in the second batch due March 22.

“That’s like an eternity here, right?” he said.

Democrats did “very, very well” in their fight against Republican riders in the first package, House Appropriations ranking member Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said Thursday, with no “poison pills.” She said some in the second group are still being worked out.

For example, Homeland Security appropriations remain unfinished. Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Chair Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said that Republicans had not yet dropped their demands for controversial policy riders in his bill, which funds immigration and border enforcement agencies.

“Republicans are going to have to give up their riders, this is a budget bill, this is not a policy bill,” he said. “These riders can’t pass, they know they can’t pass. It’s going to be up to Republicans, whether they want to shut down the government or not.”

Immigration policy became a flash point during House floor debate on the stopgap measure Thursday. Members of the hard-line Freedom Caucus and others repeatedly brought up the recent murder of 22-year-old Laken Riley in Athens, Ga., by a Venezuelan man who crossed into the U.S. illegally, and was released temporarily into the country.

Critics of the appropriations process also brought up continuation of current spending levels while U.S. debt continues to rise rapidly.

“All we seem to offer is low energy and low (testosterone) in the face of these mounting challenges,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., argued that forcing a shutdown would damage national security including nuclear weapons programs at the Energy Department, and would only hurt constituents in GOP as well as Democratic districts.

“Government shutdowns, and I have lived through three, never work. They do more harm than good,” said Fleischmann, chairman of the House Energy-Water Appropriations Subcommittee. “I do respect my friends who are very passionate today in opposing this. But the reality is the American people want us to do our work, and to do our work well. We’ve got to keep the government open.”

In the end, Johnson received a “majority of the majority” on the stopgap vote: 113 Republicans voted for it, with 97 against.

Pell Grants

The six-page continuing resolution is mostly very simple: It extends the deadline to March 8 for four of the bills that were operating with a deadline of this Friday. For the rest of the bills that already had a March 8 deadline, the measure would extend that date to March 22.

Then there are the five pages of surprise new language added Wednesday in response to a problem that arose just a day earlier.

It includes a provision that would block the Education Department’s Tuesday decision that Republicans say could have expanded Pell Grant eligibility for roughly 280,000 college students in the upcoming academic year. Democrats support the change as well because Pell Grants weren’t intended to benefit students in families with slightly higher incomes, and if left in place would cause major strains on discretionary programs in future years.

The CR fix is estimated to save $3.4 billion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, with the money put back into the Pell Grant program starting in fiscal 2025 to alleviate a looming Pell shortfall that appropriators would have otherwise had to make up.

However, it doesn’t have universal support, as some lawmakers are worried the provision would go too far and cause students who are currently eligible for Pell to lose their assistance.

“I am very disappointed that 100,000 students are not going to be eligible for Pell Grants, and that’s something I hope to address as soon as possible,” Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Thursday. He said he would try to address the issue in final spending bills.

 

____

(Peter Cohn and Caitlin Reilly contributed to this report.)

WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed the short-term spending bill that will give lawmakers the time they need to put the finishing touches on fiscal 2024 appropriations and wrap up the process in the coming weeks.

Under suspension of the rules, which requires two-thirds of lawmakers’ support, the chamber passed the bill on a 320-99 vote. It will now head to the Senate, where that chamber could pass it as soon as later Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said.

“That will require all of us working together,” Schumer said Thursday morning. “There’s certainly no reason this should take a very long time. So, let’s cooperate and get it done quickly.”

The bill will set up a first tranche of spending bills that the House is expected to vote on next Wednesday: the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy-Water, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD measures.

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said Thursday that legislative text of that package would be released over the weekend. Text is expected to be released Sunday, which would set up a Wednesday vote in the House under the chamber’s 72-hour rule to give lawmakers sufficient time to consider the package.

The final contents of the bills are not yet clear, though it appears that the bills will not feature the big conservative policy wins House Republicans were pushing for. Schumer said Thursday that the package would not include “unacceptable poison-pill riders that we said would not fly.”

Still, Republicans are expected to claim credit for wins in the package even if they aren’t the most high-profile, culture war-related items that received most of the attention over the summer when the House was debating the bills.

“If you’re expecting a lot of home runs and grand slams here, I admit you’ll be disappointed. But we will be able to secure a number of policy victories,” Johnson told members on a conference call Friday, according to a source familiar with his comments. “These bills will be littered with singles and doubles that we should be proud of, especially in our small majority.”

How close is ‘close’?

The second batch of bills will be considered by the March 22 deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown, lawmakers have said. That package includes the Defense, Financial Services, Legislative Branch, Homeland Security, Labor-HHS-Education and State-Foreign Operations measures.

Sources are split on how close lawmakers are to reaching a deal on the second package. One person close to the talks said they were “close” and could be done “well in advance” of March 22.

Others were less optimistic about how near they actually are to finalizing that package, which includes the most controversial measures, specifically the Homeland Security and Labor-HHS-Education bills. Lawmakers are continuing to negotiate open issues, sources said.

For example, Homeland Security appropriations remain unfinished. Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Chair Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said that Republicans had not yet dropped their demands for controversial policy riders in his bill.

“Republicans are going to have to give up their riders, this is a budget bill, this is not a policy bill,” he said. “These riders can’t pass, they know they can’t pass. It’s going to be up to Republicans, whether they want to shut down the government or not.”

Immigration policy became a flash point during House floor debate on the stopgap measure Thursday. Members of the hard-line Freedom Caucus and others repeatedly brought up the recent murder of 22-year-old Laken Riley in Athens, Ga., by a Venezuelan man who crossed into the U.S. illegally, and was released temporarily into the country.

Critics of the appropriations process also brought up continuation of current spending levels while U.S. debt continues to rise rapidly.

“All we seem to offer is low energy and low (testosterone) in the face of these mounting challenges,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., argued that forcing a shutdown would damage national security including nuclear weapons programs at the Energy Department, and would only hurt constituents in GOP as well as Democratic districts.

“Government shutdowns, and I have lived through three, never work. They do more harm than good,” said Fleischmann, chairman of the House Energy-Water Appropriations Subcommittee. “I do respect my friends who are very passionate today in opposing this. But the reality is the American people want us to do our work, and to do our work well. We’ve got to keep the government open.”

In the end, Johnson received a “majority of the majority” on the stopgap vote: 113 Republicans voted for it, with 97 against.

Pell Grants

The six-page continuing resolution is mostly very simple: It extends the deadline to March 8 for four of the bills that were operating with a deadline of this Friday. For the rest of the bills that already had a March 8 deadline, the measure would extend that date to March 22.

Then there are the five pages of surprise new language added Wednesday in response to a problem that arose just a day earlier.

It includes a provision that would block the Education Department’s Tuesday decision that Republicans say could have expanded Pell Grant eligibility for roughly 280,000 college students in the upcoming academic year. Democrats support the change as well because Pell Grants weren’t intended to benefit students in families with slightly higher incomes, and if left in place would cause major strains on discretionary programs in future years.

The CR fix is estimated to save $3.4 billion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, with the money put back into the Pell Grant program starting in fiscal 2025 to alleviate a looming Pell shortfall that appropriators would have otherwise had to make up.

However, it doesn’t have universal support, as some lawmakers are worried the provision would go too far and cause roughly 100,000 students who are currently eligible for Pell to lose their assistance, sources said.

_____

(Peter Cohn contributed to this report.)

_____


©2024 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Visit cqrollcall.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. ©2024 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Visit cqrollcall.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus