Image for Congress Okays Spending Extension, Avoids Shutdown

Spending Approved for Ukraine, Disaster Relief and Home Heating

Just under the wire last week, Congress cleared a continuing resolution to prevent a partial federal government closure. The House and Senate now have until December 16 to approve spending bills for Fiscal Year 2023, which began October 1.

The continuing resolution passed the Senate on a bipartisan 72-25 vote and on a 230-201 mostly party-line vote in the House. President Biden signed the measure on Friday, the last day of FY 2022.

Continuing resolutions postpone final decisions on spending in the new fiscal year. Delayed approval also means delayed availability of newly approved funding, including monies set aside for congressionally directed spending, formerly known as earmarks.

The continuing resolution did contain additional funding for Ukraine, hurricane disaster relief, winter home heating assistance and migrant support. The $1.8 billion to assist migrants allowed in the country rankled House Republicans, who pressed unsuccessfully for more money for border security and additional border agents.

The measure provides for an additional $5 billion on top of a previously approved $12.3 billion for Ukraine military and economic assistance. Another $3 billion in unspent funding was repurposed to aid in resettling Afghan refugees.

As damage assessments from hurricanes Fiona and Ian are being tabulated, the continuing resolution frees up $18.8 billion for federal emergency relief. Stopgap funding measures, including this one, allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to commit its entire annual authorization rather than just the amount it would normally spend between now and mid-December. Florida’s two GOP senators have asked for a supplemental funding bill to aid hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and Florida. The measure also permits FEMA to assist victims of the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire in New Mexico and contains an agreement that FEMA will cover 100 percent of the damages from Typhoon Merbok that slammed into Alaska.

Sharply higher fossil fuel prices prompted approval in the continuing resolution of money to assist lower income households pay winter home heating bills.

Biden’s request was approved for $1 billion to assist homeowners cope with inflated winter heating bills and another $1 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide disaster aid grants. Home heating assistance will be funded, at least in part, from a new methane emissions tax that Democrats included in the budget reconciliation measure earlier this year.

Several programs due to expire received reprieves including a five-year extension of an FDA user fee and shorter extensions for mandatory livestock reporting, FCC spectrum auctions and the National Flood Insurance Program.

The $27 billion that Biden requested for continuing COVID and monkeypox spending wasn’t included in the final continuing resolution. Also missing was the controversial fossil fuel permitting provision negotiated by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin as the price for his vote in favor of the Inflation Reduction Act. Manchin requested deleting his provision when it became clear there weren’t 60 votes to approve it.

The $27 billion Biden requested for continuing COVID and monkeypox spending wasn’t included in the final continuing resolution.

Indiana Republican Senator Mike Braun withheld his support until he was given a chance to talk for 10 minutes on the Senate floor about his ideas for an expedited process on constitutional amendments to require balanced federal budgets and congressional term limits.