Government funding talks clouded by Manchin energy permit applications

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Even if a short-term funding bill may pass, in other words, it’s easy to see Congress mired in a second funding clash in the fall during its post-election “lame duck” session.

“A continued long-term resolution that extends last year’s funding levels, coupled with record inflation, would inflict damaging cuts on vital programs that hard-working Americans rely on as they grapple with the rising cost of lives, and to our national security,” the House Appropriations Speaker said. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said in a statement, adding that it looks forward to enacting “bipartisan full-year spending bills as soon as possible.”

It’s unclear whether an interim spending bill can carry Congress through the end of the year – when two spending veterans, the Senate appropriations chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Vice President Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), are about to retire. Leahy wants to complete a short-term package with new spending levels before the end of the current Congress, increasing pressure for a final funding deal with Shelby, his longtime partner in controlling the federal purse strings.

Before those broader spending discussions can begin in earnest, lawmakers must deal with the impending expiration of current funding on Sept. 30. The most likely and significant point of contention concerns the provisions governing energy projects allowing the Senate Majority Leader chuck schumer pledged to join the next funding patch to keep government open.

Schumer’s plans would fulfill a condition that the senator. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) wanted as he gave his long-awaited approval to the climate and fiscal portions of Democrats Party Line Bill. Manchin, and other more centrist Democrats, worry that new climate and infrastructure projects are being blocked by bureaucracy.

But some GOP senators, like the top Republican on the budget committee Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said they were not about to swallow these reforms to help Democrats. And across the aisle, some progressives are protesting the Manchin-led provisions, which they see as a boon to the fossil fuel industry.

While these objections may delay passage of an interim spending bill, they are unlikely to derail it. Neither party wants to take responsibility for a government shutdown, and Republicans may find it hard to vote against reforms that are ultimately a boon for fossil fuel companies.

So far, however, bipartisan negotiations over spending bills for fiscal year 2023 have not even begun. A spokesperson for Shelby said they could not begin until Democrats agreed to a framework for the talks that would preserve a number of longstanding policy provisions attached to the bills, called ” riders”, among others.

Among the policy restrictions Republicans want to preserve is the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortions.

Of the 12 appropriations bills for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, House Democrats passed six. The remaining half-dozen did not receive a floor vote thanks to a variety of caucus-stumbling issues, such as immigration and defense funding issues.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, released their own appropriations bills, but held no increases or passed any out of committee. They are also out of step with their House counterparts on a number of major issues, such as how much money to give to the Pentagon.

House Democrats have largely stuck to President Joe Biden’s budget request, proposing $762 billion in defense funding for the coming fiscal year. Their colleagues in the Senate came much higher, crafting a $793 billion bill. Both proposals do not include GOP input, meaning any eventual deal will likely include more Pentagon money than the White House is comfortable with.

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