Senate Majority Leader (R-Ky.) said Thursday that a one-year continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government past Sept. 30 was “unacceptable,” breaking with a plan mulled by Trump administration officials.
“Equally unacceptable is a one-year CR from a defense point of view, almost as bad as a sequester,” McConnell said.
Congress has until Sept. 30 to pass government funding bills and avoid a second government shutdown of the year. But they’ve struggled to clinch a deal to raise the defense and nondefense spending caps, which are, in turn, used to craft the individual appropriations bills.
McConnell, on Thursday, laid out three possible paths to funding the government: Getting a caps deal, passing the one-year CR stopgap bill that would renew funding at current levels or enacting sequestration, which would result in steep across-the-board budget cuts.
“I’ve been disappointed that we have not been able to reach an agreement. We’ve had a couple of meetings … I think it is the best of three possibilities,” McConnell told reporters about the prospects for a budget caps deal.
McConnell and other congressional leaders have met with Treasury Secretary , acting chief of staff and acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought as they’ve tried to get a deal on caps and raising the debt ceiling simultaneously.
If Trump and Senate and House leaders fail to reach a deal to raise the spending caps, the automatic cuts known as sequestration set up by the 2011 Budget Control Act will take effect in January.
The Trump administration has floated a one-year continuing resolution, even though several Republican senators have been cool to the option.
Vought signaled to congressional negotiators in April that the president would be willing to accept a yearlong stopgap measure in the absence of a spending deal. White House officials have also floated a one-year deal instead of a two-year deal.
Amid the negotiations, House Democrats have been passing their own government funding bills. Those would need to be reconciled with any funding levels agreed to as part of a caps deal.
McConnell, however, appeared to shoot down the Senate taking a similar path on Thursday.
“I support getting some kind of deal that can tell us how much we can spend so we can go forward,” McConnell said. “The only thing, however, that strikes me that gives us a real number to mark to is one we know the president will sign.”