What to Know in Washington: Democrats Post Stopgap Funding Bill
Senators revealed a stopgap funding bill late Monday night to keep the government running through Dec. 16 and provide billions in aid to Ukraine, but they face a challenging path to averting a shutdown this weekend.
Senate Democrats unveiled the text of the bill that carries over $12 billion in aid for Ukraine and legislation by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to expedite the energy-permitting process, which most Senate Republicans oppose. The measure will need bipartisan support in the Senate, where 60 votes are required to clear a procedural hurdle. Congress has until 11:59 p.m. Friday to avert a shutdown. Lawmakers will aim to strike a full government funding deal in December.
Lawmakers made “significant progress” toward a funding bill “that is as clean as possible,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the top Senate GOP appropriator, said in a statement. “But, if the Democrats insist on including permitting reform, I will oppose it.”
The bill includes nearly $12.4 billion in appropriations to aid Ukraine, plus an authorization for the president to draw down $3.7 billion worth of the US military’s stocks, according to a summary from the Senate Appropriations Committee. Biden requested $11.7 billion for Ukraine. Read more from Jack Fitzpatrick.
- Ukraine: The bill would provide $12.4 billion to Ukraine to aid its war effort against Russia, slightly more than the $11.7 billion requested by the White House. It would also authorize the White House to transfer up to $3.7 billion more in US defense equipment to Ukraine.
- Disasters: The bill would provide $2 billion for unmet needs from recent disasters and a $1 billion to bolster home heating assistance.
- User Fees: The Food and Drug Administration would be authorized to collect user fees for five years, preventing a funding shortfall that threatens layoffs.
- Afghans: The bill provides money to assist resettlement of Afghan refugees but does not provide the smoother path to permanent residency that advocates had sought.
Manchin’s Permitting Provision: Senate Democratic leaders included the permit provision authored by Manchin in the stopgap bill as part of a deal with to secure his vote on Democrats’ climate-and-tax bill in August. The text would also green-light federal approval of Equitrans Midstream’s stalled $6.6 billion natural gas pipeline running through his home state.
Still, Manchin hasn’t yet lined up the 60 votes for his bill required under Senate rules and has spent days prodding Republicans to accept a compromise version of the permitting changes to fossil fuel projects they have championed for years. Most Republicans have little interest in voting for Manchin’s bill, which they regard as payback for his role in helping Democrats achieve a victory for President Joe Biden with the climate legislation.
If the bill fails to get 60 votes in the Senate on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is expected to pull out the permitting language and try again. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week that if the Senate stalls the House is prepared to vote on a slimmed-down stopgap bill to avert a shutdown. Read more from Erik Wasson.
- The US Chamber of Congress is lobbying Congress for passage of Joe Manchin’s bill that would make it easier to obtain permits for energy-related projects, while saying some changes are needed. “Now, there is an opportunity to make more progress, and Congress should take it,” the lobbying group said. Read more from Erik Wasson and John Harney.
User Fees Agreement: The deal, which omits previous proposals for expanded agency oversight tools, would guarantee money from industry user fees to the FDA for fiscal 2023 through 2027. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), ranking member of the Senate health committee, told reporters Sept. 22 he and Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) agreed on a “practically clean” bill to reauthorize user fees. Read more from Celine Castronuovo.
Also Happening on the Hill
- The Senate returns at 3 p.m. and holds a procedural vote on the stopgap funding bill.
- The House returns tomorrow.
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WHAT ELSE TO KNOW TODAY
- Vice President Kamala Harris plans to visit the border between the two Koreas, marking the first time that a top Biden administration official has gone to the Demilitarized Zone. Read more.
- Harris vowed to work with South Korea to resolve a trade dispute stemming from the Inflation Reduction Act, as the longtime allies reaffirmed their defense ties in the Indo-Pacific theater. Read more.
- The US withdrawal from Afghanistan after two decades of war opened up an opportunity for China to expand its influence and lock down access to the country’s vast mineral deposits. Read more.
- Kimbal Musk, whose more famous billionaire brother’s anti-union sentiment is well known, has landed in his own showdown with a US labor regulator. Read more.
- Ian made landfall over western Cuba as a major Category 3 hurricane, while churning toward Florida in what could be the worst storm to hit Tampa in over a century. Read more.
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