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The spending fight ahead

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Jan 16, 2024
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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Congressional leaders have a CR plan. Eventually, they'll need to figure out riders, too.

The big picture: Just a few days from the first deadline, lawmakers have barely scratched the surface on negotiating contentious policy provisions and even spending levels at individual agencies.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has lined up floor votes on a stopgap to extend funding until March 1 for the first four bills (including energy and water) and March 8 for the rest.

  • The Senate's supposed to take a procedural vote on that Tuesday night, barring a cancellation due to the snow in D.C. But a partial shutdown could be in the offing Friday.

Meanwhile, the kids are still fighting.

  • Republican hardliners are in a state of revolt. The two parties are far apart on the huge slate of policy riders the GOP tacked on to the House spending bills.
  • They include funding prohibitions on Biden administration priorities (WOTUS, social cost of carbon), fights over mineral withdrawals in Minnesota and Nevada, and mandated oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Rep. Garret Graves told reporters the GOP's biggest rider priorities should be the border and energy: "Inflation is higher than it was predicted to be. It is caused by energy."

Zoom in: Nearly 50 Democrats wrote appropriations leaders Friday urging them to toss out riders in the House energy-water bill that would halt DOE gas stove and appliance efficiency rules.

  • They also want to reverse the additional $1 billion cut to the ​​Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy that Republicans added to the bill during floor consideration.
  • That's not to mention the GOP's proposed cuts to the IRA.

What they're saying: House Energy-Water Chair Chuck Fleischmann told Axios last week that he expects rider fights to largely be worked out at the leadership level.

  • He pointed out that some of the policy provisions in his bill, like prohibitions on diversity, equity and inclusion programs, are also in the other House spending measures.
  • "That is something that I'm probably going to defer more to leadership because I think those are going to have to be resolved," Fleischmann said.

Of note: ClearView Energy Partners warned that plans to shift funding deadlines to March 1 and March 8 "could expose the next fiscal cliff to presidential politics" because of Super Tuesday on March 5.

  • "In the run-up to that event, when Trump could be closing in on an unassailable lead, we think House conservatives could become increasingly unwilling to compromise," it said.
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