Congress Still Undecided on Spending Bill
It is December 1st and Congress still has not reached an agreement on the overall level of spending for the fiscal year 2023 – which began on October 1st. The Federal Government is currently operating under a continuing resolution (CR) that simply extends all spending at last year’s level. That CR expires on December 16th. The Biden Administration and congressional leaders want to pass a full-year “omnibus” spending bill before the end of the year. They all want to get there for varying reasons. For Democrats, this is the last month that they have full control and can enact their priorities. For Republicans, generally speaking, they would like to begin the 118th Congress fresh without having to deal with last year’s spending bills. Some believe this is the best chance to pass another round of funding for Ukraine – there is a perception it will become more difficult once Republicans take the majority in the House.
But you can’t draft spending bills if you can’t agree on how much to spend. Democrats want to spend more on domestic programs than Republicans are ready to accept. Republicans want to spend more on defense than Democrats are ready to accept. With only 16 days left until the current CR expires, not having an agreement on overall spending levels is a big obstacle. Everyone acknowledges at this point that Congress will need to pass another short-term CR – a week or two in duration to give negotiators time to draft the spending bills once an agreement is reached.
Congressional leaders did meet this week several times and in various forms. Although they did not reach agreement, just by meeting and talking they are making progress. Time is running short, however, and they will need to make a huge amount of progress next week if the hopes for a full year Omnibus spending bill before the end of the year are to remain realistic.
A House-passed bill to head off a nationwide freight rail strike faces an uncertain future in the Senate — just days before the threatened work stoppage is likely to begin affecting the economy. The bill, which still needs a vote in the Senate, would impose a labor contract opposed by tens of thousands of unionized workers. It is meant to prevent a freight shutdown that the railroads say would cost the U.S. an estimated $2 billion per day, but the contract doesn’t address sick leave policies, a disappointment for unions that form one of Democrats’ core constituencies.
President Biden is preparing to welcome French President Emmanuel Macron to the White House on Thursday for a long-awaited discussion of topics, including the war in Ukraine, at a time when Macron has drawn criticism for showing far more willingness than other Western leaders to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The visit marks an ongoing effort by Biden to repair the damage to U.S.-French relations caused by an American submarine deal with Australia last year.
French President Emmanuel Macron addressed U.S. lawmakers from both political parties on Wednesday and pushed back over new American subsidies that are riling European leaders, according to a participant in a closed-door meeting. Macron arrived in Washington on Tuesday for his second state visit to the United States since taking office in 2017, ahead of which French officials said he would confront President Joe Biden over the subsidies contained in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
The U.S. isn’t seeking to decouple from China, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Wednesday, even as she emphasized steps the U.S. is taking to safeguard its technology to ensure its economic competitiveness.
Ms. Raimondo spoke Wednesday on U.S. competition with China at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At a briefing with reporters in advance, Ms. Raimondo highlighted the importance of promoting trade and investment in areas outside of core economic and national security interests.