House Democratic leaders are working on a tentative plan to take up a temporary spending bill the week of Sept. 12 that would extend current government funding levels through Dec. 16, sources familiar with the discussions said.
That end date is the House's adjournment target for the 117th Congress, and it could still shift in talks with Senate leaders, who are currently planning to be in session a few extra days, through Dec. 21. Either way, it signals a seriousness about getting an omnibus appropriations package for the upcoming fiscal year done before the new Congress is seated, when control of one or both chambers could shift.
It's not yet clear what add-ons would be attached to the stopgap funding measure, which is needed because lawmakers haven't sent any of the dozen fiscal 2023 appropriations bills to President Joe Biden's desk.
Anything that can't get 60 votes in the evenly divided Senate will need to be dropped or risk being unable to pass a continuing resolution by Oct. 1, which would lead to a partial government shutdown just weeks before the midterm elections. Both chambers are scheduled to be in session for most of the last three weeks of September, with a brief break for the Rosh Hashana holiday, giving lawmakers some time to work out any differences.
In the past, passage of stopgap spending measures has often come down to the wire. This year, lawmakers are in a hurry to get back to their districts and states to campaign given the stakes of the November election.
Republicans are hoping to capture control of the House in the midterm election. In the past, the party that is not in control of the White House has usually made gains. But in recent weeks, the political landscape has become more competitive in part because the abortion issue has energized Democratic voters.
It's not yet clear what kind of appetite GOP leaders would have for wrapping up a fiscal 2023 omnibus package in December versus simply extending the CR into the new year to allow them to shape the final bill more to their members' liking.
The mid-December timeline also gives some extra time for hotly contested races to play out, including the Georgia Senate race, which might be instrumental in determining Senate control.
GOP candidate and former professional football player Herschel Walker is challenging incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., in a race Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales considers a "Toss-up." If neither contender reaches the 50 percent threshold on Election Day, the race moves to a Dec. 6 runoff.