Problem Solvers Make Bipartisan Bid to End Funding Standoff
WASHINGTON — The House Problem Solvers Caucus late Wednesday night endorsed a bipartisan plan to prevent a government shutdown, ratcheting up the pressure on hardcore Republicans to end the intraparty squabble that prevented a stopgap spending measure from reaching the House floor earlier this week.
The proposal hashed out by the 64-member, bipartisan caucus, would extend government funding at current levels through Jan. 11, 2024 — giving Congress more than three months to come to an agreement on 12 pending appropriations bills.
In regard to those bills, the proposal includes an agreement that all fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills will adhere to the spending caps agreed to by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., when they negotiated the Fiscal Responsibility Act that ended the debt-limit crisis last spring.
The Problem Solvers’ plan also calls for the approval of the president’s supplemental funding request for about $24.1 billion in additional funding for Ukraine, and would impose measures intended to prevent fiscal showdowns in the future.
The measures, which the caucus refers to as “appropriations process reforms,” are intended to “increase process transparency, restore regular order and prevent excessive use of continuing resolutions,” the members said.
They include adopting the bipartisan budget process reform recommendations of the House Committee on Modernization and Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform.
These include restoring regular order to the budget and appropriations process; directing the comptroller general to issue an annual report on the “fiscal state of the nation”; and directing the president to release a mid-year report on the nation’s budget.
Lastly, the Problem Solvers are calling for the creation of a fiscal commission that would recommend policies and procedures to address the national debt and deficit, and require the Congressional Budget Office to consider the cost of servicing the debt in its estimations.
Word of the proposal came last night just as Republicans said they were making significant progress on revising the continuing resolution that stalled in the House earlier this week.
The deadline for a deal to avert a government shutdown is Sept. 30.
In a written statement accompanying the release of the Problem Solvers’ plan, the group’s Democratic co-chair, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, of New Jersey, said the framework “provides a roadmap to stop a government shutdown, help hard-working families, spur our economy, and protect our national security.”
“It’s about commonsense governing over extremism — and it’s the way Washington should work,” he continued. “[This] proposal keeps the government open, addresses our nation’s longer-term fiscal health and includes fiscally responsible measures.”
The caucus’ Republican co-chair, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, of Pennsylvania, agreed.
“With divided control of Congress, solutions to issues as critical as funding the federal government demand a two-party solution, with compromises agreed to by both sides,” he said. “I hope that our colleagues will consider our bipartisan framework, endorsed by the 32 Republicans and 32 Democrats in the Problem Solvers Caucus, to prevent a government shutdown. Our bipartisan caucus, who believe in building bridges and finding common ground, will continue to lead by example by building consensus in the center.”
The “center” was also very much on the minds of Reps. Don Bacon, R-Neb., and Ed Case, D-Hawaii, co-leads of the caucus’ Appropriations and Debt and Deficit Working Group.
“We cannot allow division and polarization to obstruct the performance of one of our most basic responsibilities: to keep our federal government running,” Case said.
“Our framework offers a realistic path through a difficult situation to a solution that we believe can pass the House and Senate and be signed by the president,” he said.
“A government shutdown is not an option,” Bacon added. “The middle will govern in this great country. We are Americans first, over party.”