COMPASS: Congress re-engages, CR on the horizon

September 6th, 2022

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.

They’re baaaaack. Well, almost. The Senate returns to Washington this week, while the House will be back next week. But looming over Congress’s return is the September 30th government funding deadline and all the drama that entails.

Reports indicate Democrats are considering a continuing resolution (a CR, which is a straight extension of funding) through the early part of December. This is, of course, so they can jam a much larger, policy driven funding bill up against Christmas, using the pressure of the holiday to force the bill’s passage. All of this would be moot if spending bills passed one at a time, like they do in Schoolhouse Rock, but that hasn’t happened regularly in a decade or so. Massive omnibus spending bills are now the regular order of business.

With apologies to regular Compass readers, I write this same description every few months. But it bears repeating. These massive spending packages pushed up against an immovable deadline are designed to do one thing: reduce oversight of the bill, block amendments, limit time to understand what’s in it, and thus pass every lobbyist-driven provision, K street priority, and DC Swamp Special with little to no transparency. That’s it. That’s the entire point.

But these regular CRs-in-lieu-of-an-omnibus also provide another useful strategic advantage, and that is leverage. CRs are “must-pass” bills. That makes them handy vehicles for all manner of ride-along provisions that might not pass by themselves. And Democrats are planning to use that to their full advantage.

Just a few of the things Democrats are considering adding onto the CR:

  • An additional $11.7 billion for Ukraine
  • $26 billion in funding for monkeypox and COVID-19 treatment
  • $6.5 billion in emergency disaster funding
  • Senator Manchin’s permitting bill (the trade for his vote in favor of last month’s reconciliation bill)
  • The House-passed codification of gay marriage

Whatever the bill looks like, some sort of funding extension must be passed by the end of the month to avoid a shutdown. CRs, like regular appropriations bills, require 60 votes to break a filibuster in the Senate.

Conservatives have advocated for various provisions that should and should not be included. There is also an emerging concern about a long term funding bill that would deny a future conservative majority the ability to hold the current administration to account. A shorter CR, say, to February or March, would allow a newly constituted Congress to engage in far more oversight and policy than a funding bill that is a year or more.

The Latest From Around The Conservative Movement

One More Thing…

CPI’s senior legal fellow, Cleta Mitchell, interviews Maureen Riordan of the Public Interest Legal Foundation. Riordan served for two decades as a senior attorney in the DOJ’s Voting Rights Section, where she uncovered open, one-sided partisan communication and activism in what is supposed to be a non-partisan agency. Watch and listen here.