Congressional Democrats are racing to secure a year-long budget deal before Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in January.
Democrats want a budget deal that would keep the government funded from Dec. 16, when current funding terminates, until the fall of 2023. The move would allow President Joe Biden’s administration to fund pet initiatives while blocking the Republican House from exerting its influence immediately.
‘Government funding should rise above politics when the well-being of our troops and our national defense is on the line,’ said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Monday on the Senate floor, noting the geopolitical threats posed by Russia and China.
House Republicans take a different view. Some argue that since they won control of the chamber in the midterm elections, Congress should enact a short-term funding bill until January. The move would force Biden and Democrats, who narrowly retained control of the Senate in the midterms, to grant House Republicans concessions in exchange for passing a budget.
‘A deal that vanquished poison pills and went to January would enhance the leverage of Republicans to dictate policy terms,’ said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.
Democrats say that all the work already done on a year-long budget would go to waste if Congress waited until January.
Officially, the 12 appropriations bills making up the budget are set to expire when the new Congress takes off on Jan. 3. Similarly, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committees are set to retire this term. In the House, the appropriations gavel is set to change hands.
Complicating matters is that Congress has to pass a government funding bill by Dec. 16 or face a shutdown.
Biden administration officials have warned that allowing the deadline to come and pass without a year-long budget deal could put the nation’s security at risk because a short-term government funding bill keeps spending levels flat.
‘Under [a short-term funding bill], Congress prohibits the military from commencing new initiatives, such as those requested by our theater commanders in the Indo-Pacific and around the world or in support of service members and their families at home,’ Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote in a letter to House and Senate lawmakers on Monday.
‘We must break this pattern of extensive inaction. We can’t outcompete China with our hands tied behind our backs,’ wrote Austin.
Adding to concerns is that Republicans are set to only hold a narrow majority within the House next year. That reality could make passing a government funding bill difficult without support from Democrats next year.
Conservatives within the House Freedom Caucus are already lining up against more military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. The White House has requested that nearly $38 billion in new Ukraine aid be included in the spending vehicle that passes Congress before January.
Earlier this year, 57 Republicans in the House and 11 in the Senate opposed providing further aid to Ukraine unless the administration put sufficient accountability measures in place to prevent corruption.
‘Americans deserve to know where all of that money went,’ said Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. ‘It’s time for a thorough audit.’
Some Democrats say the looming GOP opposition makes it all the more important for Congress to pass a year-long budget before January.
Fox News’ Liz Friden contributed to this report.