- The Washington Times
Thursday, December 1, 2022

A group of Senate Republicans is pressuring Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell not to make a deal with Democrats to pass a catch-all spending package to fund the government through September.

The four Republican senators want a short-term stopgap funding measure instead of a massive spending bill or omnibus in Washington-speak. The short-term measure, which Democrats are sure to oppose, would kick spending decisions to next year’s Congress when Republicans will control the House.

Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana joined Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, and Sens. Ted Cruz and Rick Scott of Florida in a letter to Mr. McConnell urging him to support a short-term spending bill. The senators said they “stand with voters” on this issue.

“We believe it would be both imprudent, and a reflection of poor leadership, for Republicans to ignore the will of the American people and rubber stamp an omnibus spending bill that funds ten more months of President Biden’s agenda without any check on his reckless policies that have led to a 40-year high in inflation,” they wrote.

“Since taking office, President Biden has overseen a $4.8 trillion increase in the national deficit, costing the average American household an estimated $753 more a month. It should be up to the new Congress to set spending priorities for the remainder of this fiscal year.”

The federal government is currently operating on a stop-gap spending bill, known on Capitol Hill as a continuing resolution or a CR, that lasts until Dec. 16. The four senators called for no additional spending or policy priorities to be included in a new short-term measure.

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“Any urgent items that require the Senate’s attention should be considered separately and under their own terms,” they wrote.

It will be an uphill battle convincing the GOP’s Senate leaders such as Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee who is retiring this year.

Mr. McConnell this week said there was “widespread agreement” among congressional leaders and President Biden on the necessity to pass a catch-all spending bill covering the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. 

“There are some significant hurdles to get over to do that,” he said after a meeting at the White House. “It’s a difficult choice, frankly, if you’re interested in reducing spending, probably the best way to do that would be a one-year CR.” 

He added, “If, on the other hand, you’re concerned about the defense of our country and the funding of the Ukraine war, you’re somewhat hesitant to go in that direction.”

Congressional leaders are also considering adding a supplemental spending package for the Ukraine war to the year-end spending package. 

Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, West Virginia Republican, said it was difficult to decide what the GOP should do until the “numbers shake out.”

“I think we need to fund our defense, and we need to find a way to move through this, but they’re asking for a 14% increase on the domestic side,” she told The Washington Times. “I just don’t see that happening. So I don’t know if we end up in the year-long continuing resolution or not.”

She added, “There’s gonna be a lot of moving parts between now and then.”

Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, lamented that funding the government always comes down to massive year-end spending bills, rather than passing the 12 annual spending bills before the Sept. 30 deadline.

“We used to pass a budget every year,” he said. “I think the American people would like to actually see us do our job. And if you don’t pass individual appropriation bills and you’re doing CRs and omnibuses, you’re not really doing your job.”

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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