The U.S. Congress plans to include additional measures in its government funding bill

Read Time:4 Minute, 3 Second

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress is facing a challenging task as it attempts to use a $1.7 billion government funding bill to address other priorities. This includes tweaks in election rules, reforms of drug sentencing, and a ban against TikTok on government-owned devices.

Both Democrats and Republicans want to include as many legislative items as possible in the “omnibus” bill that funds the government until the end of its fiscal years on Sept. 30, 2023. This will ensure that the package does not become a mess.

Failure could cause a partial government shut down starting Saturday, two days prior to Christmas. This could be followed by a prolonged standoff when Republicans take control of both the House and Senate on January 3. This could break President Joe Biden’s hold on both chambers of Congress.

“Nobody will get everything they want. But the final product will contain wins everyone can stand behind,” said top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer after lawmakers approved a weeklong funding bill to allow them to finish the sprawling Omnibus bill.

Over the weekend, the full details of the package were still being worked out. It will include $858 billion in defense funding — more than $45 billion more that Biden suggested — additional aid to Ukraine and funding for agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Democrats desired similar increases in defense and other spending. Republicans objected, pointing out Biden’s party had enacted several domestic spending bills during the two years they held full control of Congress.

Last week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell stated that Republicans simply did not intend to spend extra-liberal dollars on non-defense programs as part of the Omnibus Bill.

Because of the Senate’s complicated rules, it may take several days before the funding bill is even put to a vote. After that, the House will have to pass it. To pass the Senate, the bill must have at least 10 Republican votes. However, it can be passed by the House with only Democratic support.

TIKTOK. VOTES.

On Friday, Nancy Pelosi, Democratic House Speaker, stated that she supports the bill’s passage. The Senate approved a measure last week to ban federal employees from accessing the TikTok video app, which is owned by China, on government-owned devices.

Pelosi’s support and that of Representative Kevin McCarthy (the top House Republican who hopes to succeed her in the speakership) significantly increases the likelihood that the provision will be passed.

An additional addition to the spending bill seemed certain. Republican leaders and Democratic leaders have agreed that Congress will tighten the certification process for U.S. election winners. This is in response to the Jan. 6, 2020, riot at Capitol by Republican supporters of Donald Trump, who attempted to force Mike Pence to ignore Joe Biden’s clear victory — a power Pence didn’t have — and keep Trump in the White House.

The weekend was spent by lawmakers and their aides figuring out how to include other special initiatives in this catch-all spending bill. The alternative is to abandon certain efforts temporarily.

It is precisely what happened with Democrats’ push to give citizenship to “Dreamer” immigrants who illegally entered America as children.

Last Thursday’s vote on a bipartisan plan to deport these youth and spend more money to stop migrants from crossing the border to the U.S. was canceled.

For decades, Republicans have blocked such legislation by arguing that U.S. border security must be first achieved.

A tentative deal has been reached in a criminal justice matter. An additional provision could be included to the Omnibus to address disparities in prison sentencing between crack cocaine and powder cocaine.

According to civil rights and human right organizations, a decades-old law led to far harsher sentences for Black crack users.

There was no indication that Democrats were making progress on the renewal of the extended child tax credit. Republicans have resisted, mainly citing the high cost to the government. However, they are pushing for some tax breaks that can be renewed by businesses.

Democratic Senator Sherrod B. Brown expressed his support for a tax system that boosts U.S. production. He wants it to be combined with the enhanced child credit.

He said, “What are you here to do in the body, if it is not to make life a little easier for families struggling?”

Each add-on comes with the risk of losing critical votes, which could make it difficult for Congress to pass.

McConnell warned that, if the omnibus isn’t enacted by Thursday, McConnell would support “pivoting” to a third short term funding bill that he would like to extend into next year.

This is something Biden and his fellow Democrats will try to avoid.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Moira Warburton, Editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis.

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %
Previous post After a four year hiatus, thousands rejoiced the return of Hong Kong Cyclothon
Next post Seth Lundy injured in Penn State’s romp of Canisius