Hoyer Urging Omnibus Deal Get Done Early Next Week
WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Tuesday he’s urging congressional budget negotiators to strike a deal on an omnibus spending package by early next week, so that the Senate can act on it well ahead of the deadline for keeping the government funded.
The biggest open questions now are how to address the ongoing, but waning pandemic, the crisis in Ukraine and potential disaster aid, both in terms of dollars and legislation.
Some are arguing for their inclusion in the actual omnibus bill, which would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year, or for their being voted on as separate supplemental funding measures.
On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters at the Capitol that talks in his chamber over the omnibus bill had hit a snag over defense spending related to Ukraine.
At the same time, however, he signaled there is now broad support for President Joe Biden’s policies on Ukraine after a number of GOP senators raised concerns that the White House wasn’t moving fast enough to counter Russian aggression.
The Well News reached out to McConnell’s office to learn more about the possible budgetary hurdle.
Earlier in the day, Hoyer was asked what kinds of decisions have been made about what will ride on the omnibus.
“First of all, we need to get the omnibus done as a package and have agreement on that so we can move forward,” he said. “As you know, the continuing resolution expires at midnight on March 11, so we have to pass it by then.”
As to whether expenditures related to the Ukraine crisis and other matters will be included in the bigger bill or considered as supplemental spending measures, Hoyer said at this point, “it could go either way.”
“I think it will depend on what we can reach consensus on or at least get majority support for,” he said.
“This is a time for America to come together,” Hoyer continued. “We are confronted with the most egregious military action since the Second World War, and with something that has the risk of broadening into a global confrontation.
“We need Americans to be united as a country, and we need to be as united, as Republicans and Democrats, as we were after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. That was a tragic, tragic event, but it did not put us at the level of risk we reached when Vladimir Putin said he put his nuclear military assets on alert. That’s a dangerous statement.
“So it is necessary for us to come together and be united at this point in time and I hope my Republican colleagues and my Democratic colleagues will be focused on America’s interests, global security … and whatever those supplementals are, we look at them not as a Biden proposal or a McCarthy proposal or a McConnell proposal, but as a proposal that will stabilize the world and make our security better.”
Returning to the omnibus itself, Hoyer said, “We’re going to try to get the omnibus done early next week in the House. I hope that can be accomplished.
“They’ve agreed on an upper number, and they are still working on the individual allocations, by committees and by departments and by objectives. And I’m hopeful that we will get it done and pass it in a timely fashion.”
Asked about the possible size of an outlay for Ukraine, Hoyer said the numbers are still fluid. “I know the administration is looking at maybe $6.4 billion, and some lawmakers are talking about $8 billion or perhaps even more. I don’t have a figure. When a reporter asked me about this yesterday, I said, ‘My figure is whatever the Ukrainian people need to be able to defend their homes, their country, their freedom, their sovereignty, to which they are entitled.’
“So if there are supplementals that we do, I hope we use them well to stabilize our economy, to make life better for our people, and to engage in building security and stability in the global community. Because this attack on Ukraine by Russia is a criminal act by a president who sees free people as somehow hostile to him. They didn’t attack him. They didn’t threaten him. And so whatever they need is the figure I support.”
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