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Congress Faces a September to Remember

It could be a ‘September to Remember’ as U.S. lawmakers face daunting differences over spending decisions needed to keep the government open after the fiscal year ends on the 30th. Hardline Republicans aren’t budging, Democrats aren’t budging, and a desperate White House is already calling for a temporary spending extension to keep the government operating. White House Spokeswoman Karine Jean Pierre says, “A Continuing Resolution to prevent a government shutdown. This is something Congress can do. They can prevent a government shutdown. They need to prevent a government shutdown.”

But hardline conservatives want more cuts than those in a June budget deal Speaker McCarthy and President Biden struck, while the White House wants more spending for disasters, immigration, Ukraine, and nutrition—$1.4 billion more for WIC alone.

Jean Pierre says, “Without this adjustment, states would be forced to implement waiting lists, causing women and children to go hungry and pushing vulnerable families into poverty.”

The USDA spending bill, stalled in the House Rules Committee, is advertised at more than $25 billion, but to get to that figure, Republicans redirected nearly $7.5 billion in unspent Inflation Reduction Act funds. Ag Appropriations Chair and Freedom Caucus member Andy Harris defended his panel’s bill saying, “We simply cannot continue down this path of spending massive amounts of taxpayer dollars without regard to the fiscal future of our nation. This bill takes the same approach American families take every day. They simply have to do more with less under the Biden economy.”

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell called the appropriations process “a pretty big mess” but predicted lawmakers would pass a short-term deal into December. Still, House conservatives are resisting in a battle that not only threatens a government shutdown but could further stall a farm bill, already in both parties’ crosshairs over spending for SNAP.

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