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After Dodging Shutdown, Legislators Anxiously Anticipate Next Critical Deadline

Despite averting a recent shutdown, lawmakers are already expressing concerns about the upcoming government funding deadline. The uncertainty revolves around the allocations for the 12 annual government funding bills for fiscal year 2024.

Agreement on Topline, But Allocations Unclear

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Leaders from both parties have agreed on a topline for these funding bills. However, the specific division of funds among the bills remains undecided, causing delays in drafting the individual bills.

Senator Collins’ Worries

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Senator Susan Collins, a key Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, voiced her concerns about the unresolved allocations. She finds the delay perplexing and problematic.

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Appropriators Awaiting Allocations

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Senior appropriators had hoped to receive the allocations in the past weeks. Their anticipation continues as the delay in allocations hinders progress on spending talks.

Potential Sticking Points in Negotiations

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Spending cardinals are identifying potential issues in funding areas like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other non-defense programs. These could be major sticking points in the negotiations.

Rep. Tom Cole’s Insights

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Rep. Tom Cole, who leads a key appropriations subcommittee, remains confident about reaching a deal. However, he acknowledges challenges, particularly in resolving disputes between DHS and Labor-HHS funding bills.

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Impact of Supplemental Bill on DHS Funding

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The ongoing negotiations for a major border policy and foreign package could affect DHS funding. This package includes strict asylum restrictions, border security measures, and aid for Ukraine and Israel.

Senator Baldwin on Negotiations Progress

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Senator Tammy Baldwin, who oversees DOL and HHS funding, noted that while negotiators are nearing a deal, DHS funding remains a significant point of tension. Democrats are advocating for funding levels close to those in the bipartisan bills marked up in the Senate.

However, they face resistance from the House on these numbers.

Urgency in Finalizing Subcommittee Allocations

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Lawmakers feel the pressure to finalize allocations soon, especially if they aim to avoid another stopgap measure. The process of writing the bills is time-consuming and complex.

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Senate Appropriations Chair Awaits House Movement

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Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray is leading the negotiations and waiting for a significant move from the House. This step is crucial for advancing the talks on allocations.

Stopgap Measure Extends Funding Deadlines

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A recent stopgap measure has extended funding deadlines into March, providing more time for broader spending discussions. This includes temporary funding for various departments and agencies.

Tight Timeline for Appropriators

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Appropriators acknowledge the tight timeline they face to complete the 12 annual funding bills. The process is intricate and requires swift action to meet the deadlines.

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Differences in House and Senate Funding Bills

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There are notable differences between the funding bills drafted by the House and Senate. The House bills are written to lower levels than the budget caps agreement and include contentious riders.

Looming Deadline for Automatic Cuts

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Lawmakers are also mindful of an April deadline for automatic cuts to defense and nondefense programs. This adds urgency to their efforts to complete the funding work on time.

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