There is “widespread agreement” among leadership in both parties to pass an omnibus spending package next month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Tuesday.
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His announcement was met with a string of criticisms from conservatives, calling to punt such decisions into next year, The Hill reported. Indeed, some have been calling for a punt to next year, with more leverage for Republicans.
Following his announcement, the Senate minority leader warned there are “significant hurdles” to reaching a deal, which means talks could drag until Christmas to avoid a government shutdown.
“We had a really good meeting,” McConnell told reporters nonetheless after meeting with President Joe Biden and other congressional leaders at the White House. “[We] laid out the challenges that we’re all collectively facing here. I think there’s widespread agreement that we’d be better off with an omnibus than a [continuing resolution], but there are some significant hurdles to get over to do that.
“For myself and I think the majority of my conference, defense and Ukraine” funding is “at the top of the list” of priorities.
Democrats’ call for increased nondefense discretionary spending is a “sticking point.” Still, the GOP leader added, “we’re going to keep talking to each other.”
McConnell will meet Wednesday with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other congressional leaders to discuss the spending package.
McConnell met Tuesday with Biden, Schumer, and both House party leaders.
“We had a good discussion about funding the government,” Schumer said following the meeting. “We all agreed that an omnibus would be better than a [continuing resolution].
“We each laid out our criteria for the omnibus,” he added. “Obviously they’re different, but we’ve agreed to sit down as early as tomorrow, the four appropriators and the four leaders, to try and resolve the issue and avoid any government shutdown. So it was a good and productive meeting.”
McConnell and McCarthy agreed an omnibus spending bill is favored over a stopgap spending bill or continuing resolution that would freeze federal funding until next year.
Currently, McCarthy is running to become the next speaker of the House. And his move appears to signal a call for a clean slate rather than trying to negotiate a huge spending deal with Democrats while holding only a slim House majority.
But conservatives led by Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, have called for a stopgap that would last until 2023 and give Republicans more leverage once they control the House.
Scott published an op-ed Tuesday in the Washington Examiner, accusing GOP leadership of “caving” to Democrat spending demands.
“I ran for Senate leader because the current plan of routinely caving in and allowing Schumer and Biden to win must stop and because we must become a party with a plan to rescue America,” Scott wrote.
“Everyone says compromise is crucial in Washington. That’s fine. But it’s about time we stop compromising our principles and start making the Democrats compromise theirs.”
Earlier this year, the House Freedom Caucus and broader Republican Study Committee issued missives opposing a short-term spending package or omnibus deal.
RSC Chairman Jim Banks, R-Ind., put it in a memo in September, Rollcall reported: “Voters will have fired Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi, but she will still decide all government funding for” fiscal 2023.
After Lee, Scott, and Cruz wrote an op-ed for Fox News urging a stopgap extending into next year, former President Donald Trump weighed in to laud them for taking a position more favorable to the GOP’s leverage.
“Finally, some Republicans with great courage!” Trump wrote, according to Roll Call. “Rick Scott, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are working hard to stop Chuck Schumer and his favorite Senator Mitch McConnell from ramming through a disastrous” short-term bill.
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