Congress has a jam-packed legislative calendar as it aims to pass a spending bill and a defense authorization bill before the new congressional term.
The current stop-gap spending bill, otherwise known as a continuing resolution (CR), will expire on December 16. Reports suggest that Democrat leaders are discussing a one-week extension of the CR to give lawmakers more time to negotiate a long-term spending bill deal.
Congressional leaders could either decide to pass a longer-term spending bill that would fund the government into 2023, or they could attempt to pass a full omnibus spending bill, even though that will come with significant hurdles.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has historically avoided the threat of government shutdowns, and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the retiring Senate GOP appropriations leader, would likely want to put his imprint on a government spending bill one more time.
Reports have suggested that Congress may attempt to include as much as $37.7 billion in aid military, economic, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. However, many House conservatives have vowed to audit more aid for Ukraine. Some Democrats and Republicans have proposed legislation to scrutinize billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Leahy (D-VT), House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), as well as their Republican ranking members, urging them to pass a full-year spending bill.
Austin contended that not passing an omnibus bill would “result in significant harm to our people and our programs and would cause harm to our national security and our competitiveness.”
Congressional leaders have also discussed lifting the debt limit, the government’s ceiling on government spending, during the lame duck; however, Punchbowl News noted that Congress does not have the time to do so.