One month before a temporary agreement to fund the government expires, congressional appropriators appear to have made little progress on a FY 2022 budget, making it ever more likely Congress will resort to leaving current funding levels in place through the end of the fiscal year.
The chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate appropriations committees met last week to discuss the potential completion of FY 2022 appropriations and released a joint statement saying they “look forward to further conversations in the coming days, with the shared goal of finishing our work by the February 18 government funding deadline.”
The budget is comprised of 12 individual appropriations bills and one measure of progress is where each chamber is in getting those passed so that compromises can be worked out and final versions of each bill can be approved. To date, the House has approved 9 or its 12 appropriations bills, while the Senate has approved zero.
Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK4), Vice Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, says Democratic leaders have been wasting too much time on “bright shiny objects” like Build Back Better and voting rights, and the president needs to show some leadership and focus more attention on passing a budget.
“His job is to actually run the government, that’s what we elect him to do,” said Rep. Cole in an interview last week.
Rep. Cole and other members worry that Congress will ultimately be left with no choice but to pass a continuing resolution that extends current funding levels through the end of the 2022 fiscal year.
"The longer you go," said Cole, "the more likely it is that you won’t get it done."
Congress did pass the National Defense Authorization Act last month, authorizing a pay raise for soldiers, new construction projects, and work on new weapons systems, but Cole says that just lays out how the funding should be utilized.
"It doesn’t mean anything until the appropriations committee writes the check," said Cole.
That's why, Cole says, Republicans, most Democrats and, he would think. the Commander-in-Chief would be urging appropriations leaders to get busy.
"He ought to be focusing enough attention on assembling the players and saying, ‘I need a budget for the United States military, I need a budget for every agency of government, we’re operating on Donald Trump‘s last negotiated budget and I’m in the second year of my administration, and that needs to change.’”