Congress launches funding talks forward of February shutdown cliff

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy delivered a sanguine evaluation as he exited the assembly Thursday. “We had a worthwhile dialogue,” the Vermont Democrat mentioned.

Greater than three months into the fiscal yr, senior lawmakers have nonetheless but to set totals for his or her two important buckets of cash — navy money and spending for non-defense packages. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), his occasion’s high upper-chamber appropriator, mentioned Thursday that spending leaders solely mentioned broad floor guidelines for negotiating a remaining funding package deal.

“The 4 of us had constructive talks of the place we go and the way we get there and the way we begin,” Shelby informed reporters after the assembly. “And we hadn’t labored that out but, and we’re going to proceed to speak and meet.”

Democratic leaders have blasted Republicans’ insistence that they provide in from the get-go to coverage restrictions that have been baked into prior funding payments, regardless of controlling each Congress and the presidency. Moreover the high-profile debate over the abortion rider often known as the Hyde Modification, Republicans need Democrats to nix funding for environmental justice work and forgo funding in a Civilian Local weather Corps that might combat local weather change and preserve public lands.

GOP leaders additionally need to guarantee ongoing funding for controversial federal efforts, just like the Division of Well being and Human Providers’ “sexual threat avoidance” program that gives tons of of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in grants to packages that promote sexual abstinence till marriage.

Home Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) repeatedly derided the GOP coverage calls for this week, earlier than calling the Thursday confab a “constructive” dialog she hopes to proceed within the coming days “with the shared objective” of wrapping up negotiations by the Feb. 18 funding deadline.

“An ultimatum shouldn’t be negotiating,” DeLauro mentioned Wednesday. “There can be a really sturdy debate round coverage points and riders.”

Forward of the Thursday assembly amongst appropriators, Shelby and Leahy huddled earlier within the week with Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell in what Shelby described as “a really cordial assembly” about spending negotiations, together with Republicans’ want to set tips on the outset of the deal-making.

“We need to set up some parameters, coping with legacy poison tablets, all that off the desk,” Shelby mentioned Wednesday night. “After which we begin speaking about critically funding the federal government.”

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