Congressional Funding Negotiations Continue in December
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After the enactment of a short-term government funding bill, congressional fiscal 2024 budget negotiations are expected to continue through the holidays.
The leaders of the House and Senate, who signed off on a bipartisan continuing resolution before Thanksgiving to avert a partial shutdown this fall, point to upcoming government funding deadlines.
Several federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Transportation, are operating under budget authorities that expire in mid-January. Other agencies’ funding authority expires in early February.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), a key architect of this novel two-deadline structure, reaffirmed keeping agencies funded through fiscal 2024 tops Congress’ to-do list. Central to funding negotiations, Johnson explained, will be immigration policy, myriad social programs and arriving at a sound fiscal outlook for the federal government.
The speaker summarized his strategy for reporters on Capitol Hill on Nov. 29: “Everything that’s on our plate is viewed by us through that lens that we have to restore this idea of fiscal sanity.”
On the Senate side, Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed the speaker’s call to action on the need for finalizing fiscal 2024 funding measures.
“Congress passed the bipartisan continuing [funding] resolution shortly before Thanksgiving. Over the past week, there have been ongoing discussions to ensure Congress is well-positioned to finish full-year funding bills early next year,” Schumer told members of the chamber.
“The Senate and House must continue to work in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion so that we can complete the first tranche of appropriations bills, Agriculture, Energy and Water, [military construction-Veterans Affairs] and Transportation-[Housing and Urban Development], before the [Jan.] 19 deadline,” Schumer continued.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking member on the Appropriations Committee, on Nov. 29 urged colleagues to wrap up budget negotiations and avoid further relying on short-term funding bills. As she put it, “The federal government has been operating under short-term funding patches, known as ‘continuing resolutions,’ since the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1. These temporary funding patches lead to harmful uncertainties, needless inefficiencies and wasted taxpayer dollars.”
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Senate Democratic leaders also intend to schedule consideration of a supplemental aid package of about $100 billion requested by the White House. President Joe Biden is insisting on a new round of aid primarily for conflicts in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre expressed a sense of urgency pertaining to the aid. “It’s a priority for us, both the domestic and also the national security,” she told reporters at the White House on Nov. 27. “We’ve made very clear that those are emergency asks that we have, that we put … in front of Congress. And so, we’re going to continue to make that very clear.”
Congress averted a partial government shutdown with the enactment of the short-term continuing funding resolution. Biden signed the measure a day before government funding authority was set to expire on Nov. 17.
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The fiscal 2024 transportation funding legislation is among the bills awaiting consideration. In the fall, the Democrat-led Senate advanced its fiscal 2024 transportation appropriations bill. That measure would provide $98.9 billion for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. It would dedicate $20.2 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration, $16.8 billion for the Federal Transit Administration and $3.4 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration. For the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Senate bill would provide the agency with nearly $1 billion.
House Republican leaders have kicked off debate on their fiscal 2024 transportation bill. The House’s $90.2 billion legislation also would dedicate nearly $1 billion for FMCSA. For the remainder of DOT, it would provide $19.5 billion for FAA, $14.6 billion for FTA, $1.4 billion for FRA and $1.2 billion for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.