“We are waiting for the Senate to decide what date they can agree on, which is ridiculous,” Steny Hoyer, leader of the House of Representatives, told reporters Tuesday night.
The majority leader claimed during a closed-door meeting late Tuesday that the House Democrats needed to bring the measure to the floor Wednesday, with or without the two-part blessing from their Senate counterparts, according to local sources. If that goal slips, the timeline will quickly skew in the Senate, with GOP lawmakers such as Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky having an overview of protesting against rapid debate on funding bills, triggering government shutdowns like the short period he spurred in 2018.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) Instead pushed for more time to reach an agreement with the Republicans. The meeting was strained as Hoyer expressed his frustration at ensuring that the next funding deadline falls on a date the house is scheduled to meet and that his chamber acts quickly enough to prevent a closure this week.
DeLauro is working to reach an agreement with Republicans Wednesday morning. But most Democrats at the meeting, including top executives, agreed that the House should vote that day regardless of progress in the negotiations.
While Democrats have proposed keeping the government funded until sometime in January, Republicans are pushing for a longer gap. They argue that the two parties will need more time to conclude a comprehensive financing agreement that updates the level of spending for the Pentagon and all domestic authorities in the federal government.
“The issue is not January … or February, or even March,” said Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), His party’s top executive in the Senate. “I think the real question is: When do we sit down and talk substantively?”
A GOP assistant in the Senate said Tuesday afternoon that minority party leaders were seeking “an appropriate amount of time” to work through cross-party negotiations on a broader funding package. “For success in the long run, [a stopgap] it provides sufficient leeway is important in the short term, ”said the Republican assistant.
Republicans say these negotiations will take longer than usual this year, given that Democrats are seeking historic increases in non-defense spending and will not waive GOP demands in advance – such as including the Hyde Amendment, a Republican-led policy prohibiting the use of federal funding to perform abortions.
A top aide from the Democratic parliament said Tuesday that Republicans in both houses had “refused to negotiate” all year on government funding. “… while the House and Senate Democrats have put forward their proposals, Republicans have not put forward a separate offer,” said Evan Hollander, the majority party’s lead spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee.
Disregarding this controversy over the length of the funding patch, Democrats and Republicans still disagree on what exceptions will be included in the bill. Leaders have discussed several so-called anomalies, including adding funding to Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, Afghan resettlement efforts and to increase the salaries of congressional staff. The legislation could also include provisions on prevention cuts to programs like Medicare and agricultural subsidies.
Republican leaders have been pondering for weeks how to negotiate the next spending patch, as Democrats publicly urged them to come up with a counter-offer to their proposed funding bills.
GOP has threatened to eventually force the Democrats to a “year-round” stopgap if the majority party does not support a number of Republican funding demands before broader negotiations even begin.
“We will not talk significantly to them about moving the bill, not just a CR, until they get serious about it,” Shelby said this week.
Caitlin Emma contributed to this report.