Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), the top Republican on the panel, on Tuesday pledged “to find common ground” in the upper chamber in the face of a looming standoff with the House over government funding.
Murray and Collins in a joint statement said they would work together amidst growing speculation about a likely government shutdown later this year after Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) promised conservative rebels in his conference that he would insist on capping spending at fiscal year 2022 levels — something that Democrats are dismissing as a non-starter.
“As the incoming chair and vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, we take our responsibility to govern seriously and look forward to working in a bipartisan way here in the Senate to find common ground and move our country forward,” the senators said in a joint statement.
In addition to his pledge to cut discretionary spending, McCarthy also promised to pass the 12 annual appropriations bills individually to avoid having to vote on another year-end omnibus spending bill.
Murray and Collins jointly expressed support for taking up the annual appropriations bills in a more timely manner in the Senate. Not a single regular spending bill came up for a vote on the Senate floor last year until the chamber considered the omnibus package in December — something that angered many Senate Republicans.
“There are so many pressing challenges our nation faces right now — both here at home and abroad — and it is our responsibility as members of Congress to do the hard work to listen to one another, find common ground, and then reach sensible solutions that help the American people,” they said. “This starts with funding the government in a responsible and bipartisan manner — that means marking up our appropriations bills and bringing them to the floor in a timely way.”
The Senate didn’t vote until Dec. 22 on a consolidated package of spending bills while the House passed six appropriations bills in July.
The Senate didn’t pass any regular appropriations bills in 2021, either, as Democrats were consumed by negotiations over President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda, which stalled in mid-December after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) balked at several of its core provisions.
The upper chamber later passed an omnibus spending package for fiscal 2022 in March of 2022, nearly six months after the end of the previous fiscal year.