According to Politico, the four top Democratic and Republican appropriators met on Thursday, April 28th, 2022, to begin negotiations on a budget for fiscal year 2023. The stated goal is to have the top-line defense and non-defense numbers locked in before summer, the first step in setting the budget.
The House Appropriations Committee has ambitions of marking up the 12 appropriation bills in June and finishing the lengthy, involved process before the September 30th deadline, ahead of the midterm elections. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet announced a timeline for markups or floor action.
The Hill reports Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) expressing hopefulness after these first meetings and initial discussions: “I am certainly more optimistic about the whole process than I was last year at this time,” Leahy told reporters after the meeting on Thursday afternoon.
However, the lawmakers have also acknowledged that the midterm elections and the resulting political pressure could complicate the negotiation process. “It will be difficult to get there before the election,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said this week, according to the Politico article. “But we can have a lot of things in place and then go from there.”
Despite these promising steps forward, advocates and analysts have predicted that with the uncertainty of the midterm elections looming large, it’s very likely that Congress will need to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to continue funding the government passed the October 1st start date of FY 2023. A CR would extend the current levels of funding into the beginning of FY 2023, in order to avoid a government shutdown or lapse in funding of key services and programs.