The Clock Is Ticking on the Deadline to Fund the Government
With the House out of session, all eyes are on the Senate and a potential disruption to passage of another continuing resolution (CR). The current CR runs until February 18, 2022, and the legislation that passed the House last week, by a bipartisan vote of 272–162, would extend it to March 11, 2022. Some Republicans, however, have expressed outrage in response to recent press reports of a $30 million Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Harm Reduction Program Grant authorized in the American Rescue Plan. They have said the grant amounts to the federal government distributing crack pipes to drug addicts. The White House denied that the administration ever had any such plans. Still, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has threatened to halt the advancement of the CR over this issue. Should language be added to the bill, it would have to go back to the House, which is not in session and is highly unlikely to pass any legislation under unanimous consent in this political environment. At this moment, there is no real threat of a government shutdown, but navigating this issue within a short timeline may be tricky.
The more time that goes by without an outline from the Administration for COVID-19 supplemental funding, the less likely we are to see any type of funding package included in an omnibus. This may be due in part to skepticism over exactly how much money is needed based on how much has been spent, which is as yet unclear.
Finally, Speaker Pelosi has pivoted on some of the messaging surrounding the Build Back Better Act (BBB), particularly in light of recent inflation numbers. The speaker is now positing the BBB to be a “deficit reduction bill.” She noted that the original legislation would “ease long-term inflationary pressures” according to an open letter from 17 Nobel Laureate economists. However, the outlook remains the same: Senator Manchin (D-WV) needs to re-engage for there to be progress made.
Bottom line: The Senate will be busy this week debating the CR, but we expect its final passage before the clock strikes midnight on February 18.
This week, the House is out of session while Senate pursues action on passing the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government before Friday’s deadline. Debbie Curtis, Amy Kelbick and Rodney Whitlock come together to preview a busy legislative agenda this week in Washington.