Congress launches funding talks ahead of February shutdown cliff


Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy delivered a sanguine evaluation as he exited the assembly Thursday. “We had a worthwhile dialogue,” the Vermont Democrat stated.

Greater than three months into the fiscal yr, senior lawmakers have nonetheless but to set totals for his or her two most important buckets of cash — army money and spending for non-defense packages. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), his social gathering’s prime upper-chamber appropriator, stated Thursday that spending leaders solely mentioned broad floor guidelines for negotiating a closing funding package deal.

“The 4 of us had constructive talks of the place we go and the way we get there and the way we begin,” Shelby informed reporters after the assembly. “And we hadn’t labored that out but, and we’re going to proceed to speak and meet.”

Democratic leaders have blasted Republicans’ insistence that they offer in from the get-go to coverage restrictions that have been baked into prior funding payments, regardless of controlling each Congress and the presidency. In addition to the high-profile debate over the abortion rider often called the Hyde Modification, Republicans need Democrats to nix funding for environmental justice work and forgo funding in a Civilian Local weather Corps that may combat local weather change and keep public lands.

GOP leaders additionally need to guarantee ongoing funding for controversial federal efforts, just like the Division of Well being and Human Providers’ “sexual threat avoidance” program that gives tons of of thousands and thousands of {dollars} in grants to packages that promote sexual abstinence till marriage.

Home Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) repeatedly derided the GOP coverage calls for this week, earlier than calling the Thursday confab a “constructive” dialog she hopes to proceed within the coming days “with the shared purpose” of wrapping up negotiations by the Feb. 18 funding deadline.

“An ultimatum isn’t negotiating,” DeLauro stated Wednesday. “There shall be a really strong debate round coverage points and riders.”

Ahead of the Thursday assembly amongst appropriators, Shelby and Leahy huddled earlier within the week with Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell in what Shelby described as “a really cordial assembly” about spending negotiations, together with Republicans’ need to set tips on the outset of the deal-making.

“We need to set up some parameters, coping with legacy poison drugs, all that off the desk,” Shelby stated Wednesday night. “After which we begin speaking about severely funding the federal government.”