Congress has a March 11 deadline to pass an omnibus spending bill but negotiators remain hung up on whether to include another round of emergency COVID-19 relief and disaster aid in the package.
Congress passed a stopgap continuing resolution in mid-February that maintains government funding through March 11. House leaders want to vote March 8 on an omnibus spending bill to fund the government through the end of September, in order to give the Senate enough time to vote as well before funding expires.
“I’ve urged us to get that done at the beginning of next week so the Senate can get that done prior to the 11th,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). “We have to pass it by then.”
While both Republican and Democrat appropriators agree on the need to include emergency defense and humanitarian aid for Ukraine in the omnibus, Democrats and the Biden administration believe more pandemic funding is needed as well and Louisiana Republicans say the state needs more relief from hurricane Ida last fall.
President Biden said in his State of the Union address Tuesday night that he will soon be sending Congress a formal request for additional emergency pandemic funding to prepare for future variants, expand testing, vaccines and therapeutics.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the omnibus will stay on schedule for a vote next week and that there will not be a need for another stopgap continuing resolution to fund the government.
“We would never have another CR,” Pelosi told reporters this week. “We’re way down the road on that.”