Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he hoped the Senate could pass a comprehensive government funding package for fiscal year 2023 as early as Wednesday, as state and government leaders push for rapid adoption before Friday’s shutdown deadline.
“The Senate took the first step to pass this bill last night and voted 75 to 20 to start the debate,” he said, referring to a procedural vote to kick-start the process in the upper chamber on Tuesday.
Schumer described the margin Wednesday morning as “a strong signal that both sides are interested in completing government funding very soon.”
“We need to finish our work before the deadline on Friday at midnight, but in reality I hope we can vote on the final passage much earlier, even tonight,” he said Monday morning.
The House of Representatives and Senate are both preparing for a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening. The financing package includes 45 billion US dollars in aid to Ukraine.
Schumer said the two sides are still negotiating potential amendments, which he hopes senators can start voting later in the day to “get final approval soon.”
“But this will also require cooperation,” he said. “I therefore urge my colleagues not to stand in the way of further developing this process. No one wants a shutdown.”
Government funding is expected to expire at midnight on Friday. This is in line with a deadline set by a short-term measure passed by lawmakers last week to buy more time for funding negotiations.
The comprehensive financing package presented by congressional negotiators early Tuesday will fund the government and its various agencies through the remainder of fiscal year 2023, which ends at the end of September.
Republicans who oppose the omnibus have pushed for Congress to postpone government spending until early next year. They say this move is necessary to give the party more influence over funding talks as Washington prepares to launch a new GOP-led House of Representatives.
However, many Senate Republicans have called for an omnibus to be passed earlier next year, citing concerns about funding in areas such as defense.
The 4,155-page package, made up of the 12 annual budget bills, includes $772.5 billion in discretionary spending outside defense and $858 billion in defense appropriations—a growth gap that Republicans pushing for passage are trying to capitalize on when they factor in inflation.
“The best military in the world will get the funding it needs and thus exceed inflation,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said shortly after Schumer’s statements on the ground. “In the meantime, spending that has nothing to do with defense and is not veterans is all below the inflation rate that would be expected if the dollar were cut in real terms.”
“If Senate Republicans controlled the chamber, we would have handled the approval process completely differently from top to bottom,” McConnell said. “But given the reality of where we are today, senators have two options this week, just two: Give our armed forces the resources and assurance they need, or we’ll deny them.”