Shelby says another CR will be needed in December

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) on Tuesday said another continuing resolution will likely be needed in December to fund the government, following an initial meeting on Tuesday between top lawmakers on the House and Senate appropriations committees over fiscal 2022 funding bills.

Shelby, the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters after the meeting that an additional continuing resolution will probably be needed to fund the government after Dec. 3, when funding from the stopgap bill passed in late September is set to expire.

The vice chairman also said a handful of Republicans would be on board with a full-year continuing resolution (CR). He did note, however, that such a move is not what he would like but is “probably what we got.” 

He told reporters that after Dec. 3, “if there’s no progress then, we could be headed for a yearly CR. A lot of people would like that. One, that keeps all the riders off, you know? Think of that from our standpoint.”

The Alabama Republican later tweeted that he “made an offer to negotiate on numbers & substance if we return to the Shelby-Leahy agreement,” which involves eliminating “poison pills” — riders that bar agencies from using funds for certain activities and provisions — and refraining from legacy riders. Legacy riders is a term that refers to language that has been carried on the bills for potentially decades. 

He said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) “supported this model when the Dems were in the minority,” adding, “It is what worked then and what will work for FY22 bills.” The tweet was accompanied by a video of top Democrats previously expressing support for bills that did not include poison pill riders.

Democrats, however, do not seem to be on the same page about a one-year continuing resolution.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said in a statement that a string of continuing resolutions “is not a responsible way to govern.”

He appeared to call out Republicans for not negotiating with Democrats on a government funding bill in September.

“Republicans seem to want to drive us into a full year continuing resolution. Democrats made a good faith offer last month that provided a 5 percent increase in defense spending, which is consistent with the bipartisan NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act], but it takes two to negotiate. We still have not received a topline offer in response to ours,” Leahy said in a statement after the so-called four corners appropriations meeting.

“An endless cycle of continuing resolutions is not a responsible way to govern. It means cuts to veterans, cuts to national security and defense, handcuffing our response to the pandemic, and not meeting the challenges of climate change. We have made clear what we are for. What are they for? We are ready to get to work as soon as they come to the table,” Leahy added.

Though Tuesday’s meeting was not expected to produce any results, as it was a preliminary huddle, the conflicting perspectives offer a preview of the political clash that will likely come to a head in early December when funding from the stopgap bill is set to expire.

Democrats are already bracing for the December cliff, when they will face a government funding deadline, a debt ceiling crisis and the expiration of highway funding.

Congress approved a continuing resolution in late September after the two parties were unable to come to an agreement on a long-term funding bill.

Democrats had sought to include a debt ceiling increase in the funding bill, but Republicans were strongly opposed to helping raise the limit, instead urging their counterparts to do so through single-party reconciliation.

Democrats ultimately decided to eliminate the debt ceiling increase from the funding bill, instead passing a separate short-term debt hike. Republicans got on board with that initiative, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the GOP will not support a similar measure in December.

— Jordain Carney contributed to this report, which was updated at 5:21 p.m.

Tags Chuck Schumer Continuing resolution debt ceiling government funding Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Patrick Leahy Richard Shelby

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