Congress averted another government shutdown last week, passing the “laddered” continuing resolution CR proposal through both chambers. The House passed the bill, which was introduced by Speaker Johnson (R-LA) last weekend, on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, with a bipartisan vote of 336-95 and meeting the two-thirds standard needed to pass bills under suspension of the rules. 93 Republicans and 2 Democrats voted against the bill.
The Senate then voted on and passed the bill on November 15 with a vote of 87-11, and President Biden signed it into law on November 17, just before the previous CR expired.
Under this new CR, funding deadlines have been extended to January for some bills and February for others. There are no funding cuts or problematic policy riders included in the bill, but there is also no additional funding for Ukraine or Israel, disaster relief, or domestic priorities like child care.
News reports are indicating that the House leadership is not interested in another short-term stopgap bill, which puts additional pressure on the House and Senate Appropriations leaders and committees to complete the full Appropriations process by those deadlines. This will be challenging, given the Four Corners (Chair and Ranking Member of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees) have not yet agreed to topline numbers. The House Appropriations Committee, at the direction and guidance of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has written and marked up their spending bills significantly below the Senate bills, putting the two chambers on vastly different paths.
The Senate bills passed out of committee on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis, as did the minibus package of three bills that passed the full Senate earlier this month. The House bills have continued to stall, with several votes on spending bills being cancelled due to there not being enough support for them. This week, both the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies bill and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education bill were supposed to be voted on but no vote was held, indicating that there were not enough votes to pass them.
The House did go through the process of voting on amendments to the Labor-HHS bill, even though it did not ultimately make it to the floor. A number of harmful amendments were added to the bill that would further reduce funding and add policies to restrict access to abortion and restrict rights for LGBTQI+ individuals. Representative Brecheen (R-OK) offered an amendment that would block funding for finalizing and implementing the Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) new proposed rule, “Safe and Appropriate Foster Care Placement Requirements for Titles IV-E and IV-B,” which seeks to increase protections for LGBTQI+ youth in foster care (comments on the proposed rule are open until November 27). The amendment was agreed to by voice vote, though the bill has not been voted on yet.