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Markwayne Mullin

Doubts emerge on government funding

The Senate is in recess until Oct. 16 and has yet to pass any of the 12 annual spending bills that were overwhelmingly approved in the Appropriations Committee. The House — which has passed a few bills on party line vote — doesn’t have a speaker and may not get one for weeks.

Oh, and government funding expires on Nov. 17.

We wanted to take a step back and dive into the various dynamics playing out in the appropriations process. Although Congress barely avoided one government shutdown last week. And time is quickly running out for party leaders to deliver on their promise to conference all 12 FY2024 spending bills and forgo a massive year-end omnibus package.

Let’s start in the House. The House has passed four spending bills to date, virtually along party lines.

But with the House unable to consider any more appropriations bills until it elects a speaker, the odds that Congress will need to pass another continuing resolution to keep the government open past mid-November are increasing dramatically.

Republicans opposed to the decision to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy noted that the House will have wasted two weeks — at a minimum — of potential work on appropriations bills. That’s the very thing that McCarthy’s detractors were complaining about in the first place — that the House was behind schedule on FY2024 appropriations.

Here’s how Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), a former House member, described those who ousted McCarthy:

Over to the Senate. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said the chamber will try once again to secure a time agreement to vote on the first three-bill minibus package and consider various amendments to that legislation.

This minibus includes the Military Construction-VA, Agriculture and Transportation-HUD spending bills, some of the least controversial of the 12 annual measures.

But Senate GOP conservatives, led by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), withheld support for a necessary procedural step after complaining that the Senate was combining three bills into one. These Republicans wanted to vote on each bill separately, which could’ve added weeks to the process.

Johnson has since softened his position. The Wisconsin Republican now says he’ll give consent if the Senate holds a vote on legislation aimed at preventing government shutdowns from impacting agencies and departments beyond the legislative branch.

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) could also hold up the process and demand a floor vote on the Credit Card Competition Act, as he did last month when the Senate first brought up the minibus.

Schumer said this week that he’s working to secure a time agreement on the minibus “as soon as possible” so that the Senate can return to it the week of Oct. 16. But Republicans are upping the pressure on the majority leader over the calendar.

Schumer’s decision to keep the Senate’s previously scheduled recess in place next week led to an outcry among some Republicans. They want the chamber to stay in session until all 12 bills are finished.

A separate group of 20 GOP senators signed a letter saying they’ll withhold their support for “any vote to proceed to items unrelated to appropriations bills.”

— Andrew Desiderio

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.