Senate conservatives on Wednesday sent a letter to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) urging him to skip a year-end omnibus spending package and instead insist on a short-term stopgap funding measure to punt spending negotiations into next year, when Republicans will control the House.
"We believe it would be both imprudent, and a reflection of poor leadership, for Republicans to ignore the will of the American people and rubber stamp an omnibus spending bill that funds ten more months of President Biden's agenda without any check on his reckless policies that have led to a 40-year high in inflation," they wrote.
Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), who challenged McConnell for the top Senate Republican leadership job earlier this month, signed the letter along with Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.).
The senators wrote that Republicans "must not accept anything other than a short-term continuing resolution that funds the federal government until shortly after the 118th Congress is sworn in."
Republicans will control a small House majority next year, giving them more leverage over the top-line spending numbers of an omnibus package, as well as whether to include earmarks in the legislation, which some conservatives argue are a waste of money.
Scott, Lee, Cruz and Braun argued that any stopgap spending measure to fund the government until January or February shouldn't include any add-ons.
"No additional spending, no additional policy priorities should be included. Any urgent items that require the Senate's attention should be considered separately and under their own terms," they wrote.
Congressional leaders are considering adding the annual defense authorization bill, the Electoral Count Act - which would clarify the role of the vice president in certifying a presidential election - and a supplemental spending bill for the war in Ukraine to the year-end omnibus package.
McConnell told reporters Tuesday morning that there was "widespread agreement" at a White House meeting between Biden and congressional leaders on the need to pass an omnibus.
"I think there's widespread agreement that we'd be better off with an omnibus than a [continuing resolution,] but there are some significant hurdles to get over to do that," he said after the White House meeting.
The GOP leader softened his comments somewhat after meeting with the Republican conference during lunchtime Tuesday.
"We had a robust discussion at lunch, and this will continue in the coming weeks over the way to end the session with regard to government spending," McConnell told reporters after the lunch.
"It's a difficult choice, frankly," McConnell acknowledged. "If you're interested in reducing spending, probably the best way to do that would be a one-year CR."
"If, on the other hand, you're concerned about the defense of our country and the funding of the Ukraine war, you're somewhat hesitant to go in that direction," he said.
Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, told reporters Wednesday that McConnell still favors passing an omnibus package.
"We had a meeting yesterday with our leadership," he said. "Basically, and this is McConnell and others, we'd like to get an omnibus if we can but not at any cost."
"We're making some positive steps, it seems, at this point," he added.
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