Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday threw his support behind passing a short-term bill to fund the government until December as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle concede that more time is needed to pass spending bills for fiscal 2024.
Schumer told reporters on a conference call that he discussed the possibility with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) shortly before the August break. McCarthy acknowledged the likelihood of a continuing resolution (CR) during a separate conference call with House Republicans Monday night.
Lawmakers must fund the government by the end of September to avoid a government shutdown.
“I thought it was a good thing that he recognized that we need a CR in September. I’m supportive of that,” Schumer said, lauding the Senate’s appropriations process that has thus far gone off in a bipartisan fashion.
“A CR until early December provides time for consideration of these bipartisan bills,” Schumer continued. “We urge our House colleagues to emulate the Senate. The only way we’re going to avoid a government shutdown is by bipartisan support in both houses. You cannot keep the government open if you just want to do it with one party. … We hope that House Republicans will realize that any funding resolution has to be bipartisan or they will risk shutting down the government.”
The Democratic leader added that a stopgap bill lasting until December “makes a good deal of sense.”
“That will give us some time, hopefully, to get something done,” Schumer added.
McCarthy told members on his Monday call that he does not want the short-term spending bill to run up against the holidays, meaning that lawmakers would likely be working on passing appropriations bills upon returning from Thanksgiving.
However, there are landmines that negotiators must avoid. Chief among them is House conservatives who are balking at voting for a continuing resolution at fiscal 2023 levels.
Ukraine and the U.S. southern border are also set to become issues for some Republicans. The administration’s request for $40 billion in supplemental funding included $24 billion for Ukraine.
A group of 15 House Republicans from Texas are also vowing to vote against any bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security unless changes to U.S. border and migration policy are included.
Republicans can only lose four votes in order to advance legislation on their own.
Schumer also said he supports the Biden administration’s request for $13 billion in disaster relief for Hawaii after wildfires devastated parts of Maui, including historic town of Lahaina. The death toll on the island reached 99 as of Tuesday morning. The New York Democrat noted that he has talked in recent days with Hawaii Sens. Brian Schatz (D) and Mazie Hirono (D) about the situation on the ground.
“I committed to them to have the Senate do everything we could to help Hawaii,” he said before delving into the administration’s disaster request. “I am fully supportive of that and will do everything I can to get it passed in the Senate. … Americans can’t fail to answer the call when our fellow Americans are suffering from disaster.”
The timing of when Schumer will move on the Hawaii supplemental remains unclear. He declined to say whether it would be attached to the continuing resolution by the end of the month
“I’m not going to get into the details as we negotiate, but we want to get a supplemental done,” Schumer said. “We want to get a supplemental done as quickly as possible.”