Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is facing resistance to his proposed ‘minibus’ spending packages as the funding deadline for fiscal year 2024 draws near.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday took swipes at “hard-line” Republicans while vowing to secure the advancement of three fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills after Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) blocked a motion for unanimous consent to tie the spending bills into one “minibus” measure.
“I urge my Republican colleagues to resist and reject these hard-line attempts to delay the Senate’s hard work,” the New York Democrat said on the Senate floor. “A great majority of Senators from both parties want to see us move forward.”
Facing a number of Republicans who favor a conservative fiscal policy, Mr. Schumer said he was determined to get the Democrat-led spending bills “back on track.”
“In the coming days,” he said, “I’ll work with my colleagues on getting the appropriations process back on track so we can finish processing these appropriation bills and get us one step closer to funding the government. Because we all know if the government shuts down, it will hurt millions and millions and millions of Americans who did nothing wrong.”
Mr. Schumer accused Mr. Johnson of “mimicking” House Freedom Caucus tactics, saying his blocking of the minibus measure “has derailed the Senate.”
“It’s a reminder that in both chambers, a small band of hard-right Republicans are dead set on grinding down the gears of government,” Mr. Schumer said. “For these MAGA Republicans, it’s as if gridlock is a virtue and cooperation a crime.”
To avoid a government shutdown, Congress has until Sept. 30—the final day of the current fiscal year—to pass all 12 government spending bills. If lawmakers fail in that duty, all nonessential federal government operations will cease on Oct. 1.
Under the rules of the Senate, unanimous consent is required for appropriations bills to be bundled together.
Noting the impending deadline, Mr. Schumer on Monday urged both parties to embrace bipartisanship to avoid a government shutdown. He acknowledged that nobody gets everything they want in the legislative process, but he stressed that disagreements should not obstruct progress.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday said he is “going to work every idea that’s possible” to get the spending bills passed by Sept. 30. “It’s a long time before the 30th,” he told reporters.
“I don’t think anybody thinks a shutdown is a good thing,” Mr. McCarthy said in response to a question about whether so-called “hard-line” Republicans would prefer a shutdown to a stopgap measure.
GOP Decries Manipulation Tactics
Republicans have refuted Democrat claims that combining the bills into a “minibus” marks a return to “regular order” in the appropriations process. Instead, GOP members have accused Democrats of manipulation tactics used to force lawmakers into passing legislation they disagree with.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) previously accused Mr. Schumer of never intending to follow regular order in the consideration of appropriations bills.
“[B]ecause what we call the regular order around here means you take them up one at a time, all 12,” Mr. Cornyn said. “It is a transparent, open process where the American people can see it, where every senator—all 100 senators—gets to participate in crafting those bills.”
Mr. Cornyn contended that there wasn’t enough time to complete this process before the end of the fiscal year, suggesting that this outcome was part of Mr. Schumer’s strategy.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has also criticized the practice of combining spending bills to fund the entire federal government in an “omnibus” package, saying they are often crafted in secrecy with limited input from other legislators. In a post on X, he noted that a “minibus,” though smaller, could present the same problem and be equally as unpopular with the voters that each member of Congress represents.
“The absence of a single omnibus bill, and the use of two or more ‘minibus’ bills instead of a single omnibus, doesn’t mean the process will be fair or materially different than that associated with an omnibus,” Mr. Lee wrote. He also contended that it was “very likely” that Congress would still end up with a single omnibus bill.
Schumer Unhappy With GOP-Led House
Mr. Schumer, in his remarks on Monday, also expressed concern over developments in the House, where Republican members released a continuing resolution (CR) proposal that he deemed “slapdash” and “reckless.” He criticized the proposed 8 percent cuts to non-defense spending, the omission of disaster relief funding, and a disregard for Ukraine.
“Last night, House GOP members released what they call the deal for the CR, but it reads like hard-right screed,” he said.
“And with no Ukraine funding, the proposal is an insult to Ukraine and a gift to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” Mr. Schumer added. “I cannot think of a worse welcome for President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy, who visits us this week, than this House proposal which ignores Ukraine entirely.”
Ahead of the impending deadline, just 12 days from now, lawmakers in Congress are grappling with the need for a stopgap spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, to provide additional time for negotiations aimed at securing funding for the upcoming fiscal year.
Samantha Flom and Richman Jackson contributed to this report.