Sen. Richard Shelby took to the Senate floor Tuesday to urge his colleagues to hasten passage of appropriations packages to avoid the fiscal uncertainty of stop-gap spending deals, or worse, a government shutdown.
Shelby, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke as the Senate prepared to proceed on a domestic spending package that includes funding for Commerce, Justice, Science; Agriculture; the FDA; Interior and Environment; Transportation; and Housing and Urban Development. Another package that includes funding for the military is on deck.
“It is already day 22 of the current fiscal year. The entire federal government is now operating under a continuing resolution. And in less than a month, that continuing resolution will expire,” Shelby said.
“The prospect of serial continuing resolutions – or worse, another government shutdown – casts a dark shadow over our previous success. Such uncertainty also wreaks havoc on every federal agency’s ability to plan, and it is particularly acute when it comes to the military.”
Because Congress has not enacted any appropriations bills funding the 12 titles of federal agencies, the government is operating off a short-term continuing resolution, which keeps funding at previous levels until it expires on Nov. 21. Last month, Shelby and the Appropriations Committee reported out ten spending bills in the form of packages which now await full Senate passage. Meanwhile, the House has yet to pass any appropriations bills, dimming the prospects of actually getting legislation to the president’s desk.
The Republican-led Senate and Democrat-led House have disagreed over various spending specifics, most notably funding for wall construction and immigration enforcement along the nation’s southern border. In contrast to the House, the Senate has been working in a bi-partisan fashion, with Shelby and Appropriations Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, teaming up to push legislation through.