Appropriations Process Still Stalled After Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving turkey may be gone, but the political hurdles stalling spending bills and a new farm bill on Capitol Hill, remain.

The House and Senate reconvened this week, but saw little new work on agency spending bills like the earlier failed USDA bill, with just ten legislative days before Christmas and new shutdown threats next year.

West Virginia Senator and GOP Conference Vice-Chair Shelley Moore Capito told reporters Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was bringing up no appropriations this week. She says, “And he’s squandering good time, resources, and I think, the ability of us to really get our work done, and set us on a path of frugal responsibility, to where we can then become conference, and conference with the House.”

But Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray says the problem is with the House and its GOP leaders who want bigger spending cuts than agreed to earlier. Murray says, “House Republicans just need to remember, the top lines they passed into law, under the Fiscal Responsibility Act—a bill that Speaker Johnson actually voted for, along with many other Republicans.”

But Speaker Johnson’s not budging—he argues the nation’s debt and borrowing costs are unsustainable. Johnson says, “Part of the negotiations on the remaining appropriations bills, and everything that’s on our plate, is viewed by us through that lens, that we have to restore this idea of fiscal sanity.”

A fight that will linger into next year with two new shutdown deadlines and again hamper movement on a new farm bill the Ag committees won’t bring up without a clear path to passage.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley complains of a looming appropriation mess the Majority Leader could avoid. He says, “He’s hoping to have by January 19, when you’re going to shut down the government, one great big package that he’s going to negotiate and put a lot of things on the Christmas tree that he wants to get passed, that can’t be debated separately, and that’s just the way he wants to run the appropriation process…and you’ve heard me say many times, that’s wrong.”

As House Republicans also insist on passing separate spending bills, and Speaker Johnson refuses to do another temporary stop gap bill to keep the government open.