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October 2, 2023

What to expect in Washington (October 2)

Congress on Saturday passed a continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown and fund the government through November 17 along with health and other programs, while also extending the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization/taxes through the end of the year. Spending was set at the FY2023 level for the duration of the CR and border security provisions were omitted, along with the divisive issue of Ukraine funding. Disaster funding was included. The House vote was 335-91 and the Senate vote was 88-9 for the measure that, as of today, leaves lawmakers with a 45-day patch until the next deadline.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said it is a "short-term stop-gap bill to the White House in order to fund our troops, deliver emergency relief, and keep government open while Congress gets back to work through regular order." Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said "this is a bridge CR, a temporary solution. We won't stop fighting for more economic and security assistance for Ukraine." President Biden: "I just signed a law to keep the government open for 47 days. There's plenty of time to pass Government funding bills for the next fiscal year, and I strongly urge Congress to get to work right away."

Speaker McCarthy appeared on more solid ground politically following the weekend, after which he declared himself "the adult in the room" and, again, defiantly challenged those conservatives who want to oust him with a motion to vacate (which could be offered as soon as today). The dust will need to settle a bit, but lawmakers may still find themselves in an impasse over the full-year spending bills: some conservatives wanting to dial full fiscal year spending down to FY2022 levels, compared to some Republicans and Democrats who favor already agreed upon FY2023 levels. There is also the matter of what to do about Ukraine funding omitted from the CR, which caused a brief holdup on the Senate floor at the behest of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO).

"Congress did nothing to resolve the country's pressing fights on spending levels, aid to Kyiv or immigration policy — it merely deferred them," the Wall Street Journal reported. "The pause in political fighting now enters more pressured territory, particularly over support for Kyiv and government spending. The Biden administration has warned that money is running out at a critical point in Ukraine's hostilities with Russia, a shortfall that arises amid spreading GOP opposition to further assistance. Meanwhile, Congress will be facing a new deadline of Nov. 17 to come up with full-year government funding levels — or perhaps fall back to another short-term deal loathed by conservatives."

The House was previously scheduled to be out for two weeks but is now staying in to vote on full-year appropriations bills, including Energy and Water Development and Legislative Branch bills this week. The Senate was set to be in this week before a recess the week of October 9. The Senate will convene at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 3, with a State Department nomination vote at 5:30 p.m. It is unknown how the schedule may be impacted by any services for the late Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who will lie in state at San Francisco City Hall Wednesday before a Thursday funeral.

Politico reported that EMILY's List President Laphonza Butler will be appointed to fill the open California seat later today and is expected to be sworn in by Vice President Harris on Wednesday.


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Washington Council Ernst & Young
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