The House passed a bill Nov. 19 to extend the continuing resolution until Dec. 20, to provide lawmakers with an extra month to agree upon outstanding fiscal year 2020 funding bills.
The bill, a House amendment to H.R. 3055, passed by a vote of 231-192, with 12 Republicans voting to support the bill, and 10 Democrats voting against the bill. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) was the sole GOP member of the House Armed Services Committee to vote for the bill. Seven House members were not present for the vote, including HASC member and Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).
Some detractors said they voted against the bill because it allows Congress to kick the can down the road instead of working out actual budget deals. Rep. Rob Wittman, ranking member of the HASC seapower and projection forces subcommittee, said in a statement that the highest priority should be keeping the Department of Defense funded.
“I have talked to countless members of our military and every single warfighter has detailed the absolutely detrimental impacts of continuing resolutions,” he said. “Under a CR, they are unable to properly budget – leading to insufficient training, unmaintained equipment, and decreased readiness. This can’t continue – we hurt our armed forces by this constant dysfunction.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor this week that he advocated for “A CR, as clean as possible, through Dec. 20, to enable more progress on appropriations before the end of the year.” The House bill keeps the vast majority of funding at FY ’19 levels, with only a few exceptions, including temporarily extending three Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Acts, a 3.1 percent pay raise for the armed forces, a spending measure for the Export-Import Bank and funding for a 2020 census.
“A clean CR through Dec. 20 would pass the Senate. And the White House has indicated President Trump would sign it,” McConnell said. He did not indicate Tuesday when such a vote would take place.
Meanwhile, Senate appropriators do not appear any closer to reaching agreement on the remaining FY ’20 funding bills, including those for the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Energy and Water. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee as well as the defense subcommittee, said talks continue at the staff level between his committee and the House’s counterpart, “but we haven’t resolved anything yet.”
“We seem to be getting closer and then we’re stalled,” he told reporters on Tuesday, adding that it would be “quite optimistic right now” to believe an agreement could be reached before the Senate leaves for a one-week recess over Thanksgiving.