Congress Inches Closer to Final Omnibus Bill After a Weekend of Negotiating

Congress returns to what is hoped and expected to be the final week of the 117th Congress.  It is going to be one of those weeks ….

The “plan” is to release text on the massive end-of-the-year Omnibus spending bill that will fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2023.  Negotiators and staff worked all weekend finalizing text and negotiating what is in and what is out.  Because this is the last legislative vehicle leaving the station in the 117th Congress, many other items hope to hitch a ride on the bill, including:

  • Ukraine Aid
  • Electoral Count Act Reforms
  • No TikTok on Government Devices Act
  • Flood Insurance Extension
  • Health extenders
  • Tax extenders

We won’t know what is in and what is out until the text is released – but Ukraine aid seems likely and tax extenders do not.  Once the text is released, the Senate will begin the process of passing the legislation.  They appear on track to pass the bill by either Wednesday or Thursday.  And then the House can act quickly.  In the House, Democrats will need to carry the burden of providing the bulk of the votes.  House Republicans largely oppose the measure and GOP Leader McCarthy and his team will whip against the bill.  9 House Republicans voted last week for a 7-day continuing resolution (CR) – which is likely a good indication of the level of GOP support in the House for the Omni.  Therefore, House Democratic leaders will need to hold the progressive caucus who will not like the level of defense spending in the Omnibus.

Critics will complain about the lack of transparency and limited time to review the legislation.  They, of course, have a point.  But this is where we are – in the last week of a very closely divided Congress and the spending bills are not completed.  This has happened before and it will likely happen again in the future. 

The January 6th Committee will meet this week to finalize their report and it is being reported to make criminal referrals to the Justice Department.  And the Ways and Means Committee will meet to decide what to do with former President Trump’s tax returns.  Again, it is the last week of the 117th Congress and the work needs to get completed.  But it will add to the tension as both Houses of Congress rush to complete a large end-of-the-year spending package.

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