USDA, Gov’t Funding Deal Still Faces Huge Hurdles

One deal wasn’t enough and it will likely take a second deal to avert a January 19 shutdown of USDA and other federal agencies.

The good news of a handshake deal by the two top leaders of the House and Senate on a total spending figure for the rest of this fiscal year was quickly dashed by a bigger problem—the clock. “The simplest things take a week in the Senate. So, I think, frequently, the House doesn’t understand how long it takes to get something through the Senate,” said Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell about the difficulty of passing a USDA and three other spending bills by the first of two shutdown deadlines on January 19.

It takes 60 votes in the Senate to move major bills and overcome filibusters, unlike the House that works by a simple majority. Ag Senator and Republican Chuck Grassley says House GOP insistence on ‘regular order’ also takes time.

Grassley says, “I think there’s still going to be an attempt to pass individual appropriation bills, and that’s going to necessitate a short continuing resolution, until we get them passed.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson said last year he wouldn’t do another ‘CR’ or stopgap funding bill. Now, he says, “I’m not ruling out anything, committing to anything, other than getting these appropriations done. And I think we can, and we’re pushing everybody hard.”

But Senate GOP Leader McConnell says a CR is the only choice; “We need to prevent a government shutdown. So, now the question is, how long does the CR need to be, and that’ll be up to the Majority Leader and the Speaker to determine the length of the CR.”

Speaker Johnson, like his ousted predecessor, is already facing a rebellion from his hard-right flank, not just on more CRs, but on the lack of big cuts or social policy riders in the top-line funding deal.

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