Congress continued negotiations over a one-year spending bill on Thursday, with the Senate passing a short-term extension that would give the sides until December 16 to reach an agreement.
There doesn’t seem to be the degree of fear over a possible government shutdown as there has in similar negotiations over recent years, but talks have been slow to produce lasting consensus. That made a stop-gap bill a necessity and the Senate passed one Thursday by voice vote. It will now go to the House for a Friday morning vote. If it fails there, the current funding authority will expire Friday.
Sen. Thad Cochrane (R-Miss.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said that the stop-gap bill “allows time for the House and Senate to complete work on pending appropriations legislation.” He added that “negotiations are progressing steadily.”
According to the Washington Post, work on a deal will continue through the weekend and many rank and file members seem to think a final agreement will come from the top leadership in both houses of Congress.
“That’s probably finally set in that this is going to be decided by three or four people and most of us are not one of those three or four people,” Sen. Roy Blount (R-Mo.) said.
Much of the disagreement over the $1.5 trillion spending bill for 2016 centers around policy riders that members have attached or want to attach, as well as what to do with certain tax breaks that have expired or are scheduled to soon.
While the current impasse has not induced panicking on Capitol Hill or Wall Street yet, the new deadline does come around the same time that the Federal Reserve is scheduled to meet and expected to raise interest rates. If a spending deal is not reached at that point, fear may start to set in.