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House lawmakers are due to return to Washington on Tuesday, kicking off a turbulent three-week legislative session at the end of which Congress must avoid a government shutdown by September 30.
Congress is considering a short-term funding bill, known as the Continuing Resolution, that will keep government open until early December, after Election Day.
The way forward, however, is muddled by President Biden’s request to include $22 billion in new coronavirus funding and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s insistence on tying the short-term funding measure. legislation streamlining the licensing process for oil and gas drilling.
Nearly a third of House Democrats warn that including the permit portion is a no-start.
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“In the face of existential threats such as climate change and MAGA extremism, House and Senate leaders have a greater responsibility than ever to avoid risking a government shutdown by stalling divisive political horsemen in continued resolve. unavoidable,” the House Natural Resources Committee said. President Raúl Grijalva, D-Arizona, who spearheads the opposition.
Schumer, DN.Y., has pledged to pass the authorization bill by the end of September as part of a deal with Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va. In exchange for passing the bill, Schumer secured Manchin’s support in the White House. $739 billion for climate change and taxes hiking package.
The side deal allowed Democrats to push through the larger tax and climate bill along party lines in the Senate 50-50. Progressives balk at the side deal, saying it was only between Schumer and Manchin.
“Manchin went back on his word to get [Build Back Better] done, and we owe him nothing now,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich, said.
The standoff isn’t the only one threatening to derail the government’s funding bill. GOP lawmakers are also threatening to oppose any continuing resolution that includes additional funding for the coronavirus pandemic.
“In the spring, the administration told Congress that without additional funds, it could not afford to purchase vaccines in the fall, but somehow money was found to meet all needs,” said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a senior Republican member. of the House Appropriations Committee. “Rather than asking Congress for even more money now, it’s high time the administration was fully transparent about the funds spent and the remaining balances.”
Biden is asking Congress to approve $22.4 billion in new coronavirus spending. Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said the money was needed to restart the administration’s program to send citizens home for free. coronavirus test kits.
Of the sum of more than 22 billion dollars, 18.4 billion dollars are intended for the Ministry of Health and Social Services. The remaining $4 billion is for global efforts to contain and manage the virus.
Republicans say Congress should no longer approve coronavirus funding given that cases and hospitalizations are down. They also note that the federal government still has billions in unspent funds that were allocated as part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package last year.
“The pandemic is over. Democrats’ wasteful spending and poor planning is putting our country on the brink of government shutdown, during a recession,” said Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz. “The idea that they would consider adding additional ‘COVID relief’ funding to an ongoing resolution is beyond irresponsible.”
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Biden also asked Congress to approve $11.7 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine, $4.5 billion to fight the spread of monkeypox, and $6.5 billion in emergency disaster relief. Although some Republicans should be concerned about the inadequate accountability measures in place for aid to Ukraine, enough bipartisan support is expected for passage.
In addition to the spending fights, significant political attention will also focus on the final hearings of the special committee investigating the January 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol. The panel is expected to hold at least one hearing this month summarizing its findings.