On the final two days of September, Congress came together and passed a stopgap funding bill, known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), to fund the government at current levels until December 16th, 2022. President Biden signed the bill on Friday, September 30th, avoiding a government shut and buying more time for Congress to reach an agreement on Appropriations.
In the days leading up to the Senate vote, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) dropped his permitting legislation from consideration as part of the CR, as it faced opposition on both sides of the aisle; it is expected that he will continue to pursue its inclusion in other year-end packages, despite uncertain support.
A final hurdle to passing the CR was cleared when President Joe Biden issued an amended disaster declaration for Alaska, which suffered massive flooding and landslides this month after Typhoon Merbok hit the western part of the state – his original pledge included a state match, which was dropped in the amended version. The legislation included more than $12 billion in security and financial assistance for Ukraine, as well as funding for disaster relief. The White House requested emergency funding in both areas earlier this month.
On Thursday, September 29th, 2022, the Senate voted 72-25 to pass the CR, with significant support from Republican Senators. More than 200 House Republicans voted against the bill on Friday as GOP leaders accused Democrats of not doing more to address border security, supply chains and inflation. Republicans in both chambers have also taken issue with the length of the continuing resolution, with many pushing to put off working out spending levels for the coming fiscal year until January, when the next Congress begins.
Appropriations negotiations will likely start among committee staff this week and continue through the month of October, but high-level decisions will not happen until after the midterm elections in November. The House will be in recess until after the election, with Representatives using the time to campaign in their districts (as House seats are elected every two years). The Senate calendar currently indicates that the Senate will convene during the month of October, but it is more likely that the Senate will largely spend the month campaigning as well.
Committee staff are still hopeful that the Four Corners (the four top Appropriators in the House and Senate) will reach top-line agreements and the committees will complete their budget negotiations before the end of the year. They will be racing against the clock after the election, with other important priorities that will also need to be addressed in the weeks between the election and Christmas.