After several weeks without making significant progress on a deal to keep the government running, Congress passed a bipartisan continuing resolution (CR) on Saturday, September 30, 2023, just hours before the end of the fiscal year.
For much of last week, the House and the Senate were on two different paths. House Republicans were unable to pull together enough support to pass their CR bill, which included steep cuts to all nondefense programs and their policy priorities for the Southern border. Far right members of the Republican party were opposed to any stopgap effort, even when Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made concessions in the form of even more severe cuts. Meanwhile, the Senate unveiled a bipartisan CR bill that would have mostly continued funding the government at current levels, with some increased funding for disaster relief and Ukraine aid.
On Saturday evening, Speaker McCarthy brought a “clean” CR to the House floor, meaning that it didn’t make significant changes to funding and didn’t include additional policy riders. This CR was very similar to the bill in the Senate, except for not including any new funding for Ukraine. The bill passed the House in an overwhelmingly bipartisan 335-91 vote and marked a major change from the Speaker’s previous strategy of passing a partisan bill with full Republican support. 90 Republicans and just one Democrat voted against the bill. The Senate took up the House-passed bill just a few hours later, passing it with another bipartisan 88-9 vote, with 9 Senate Republicans opposing it.
President Biden signed the measure into law on Saturday, just before the midnight deadline. The CR extends funding for seven weeks, until mid-November, buying Congress more time to continue passing Appropriations bills and hopefully to pass a budget for next year. However, the two chambers continue to be far apart on their toplines and priorities, so it remains a difficult task for House and Senate leadership to come to an agreement on funding for Fiscal Year 2024.
This week, the House will continue to work on passing their Appropriations bills. Last week, they passed 3 additional bills, bringing the total passee bills to four out of twelve. Notably, Appropriations leaders were still not able to pass the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (Ag) bill, which was voted down 191-237. Representative Graves (R-LA) introduced an amendment to the Ag bill which would have eliminated the new SNAP work requirement exemptions for youth from foster care, people experiencing homelessness, and veterans, which were passed as part of the debt ceiling agreement and just went into effect on September 1st. CWLA, along with other advocates in the child welfare, housing, and veterans communities, coordinated outreach to ask Republicans to oppose this amendment; it was withdrawn before the bill was voted on, which is a win for those newly eligible for SNAP benefits.