Utah

Will the government shut down? Mike Lee says Dems will be to blame

Utah Sen. Mike Lee accused leaders of the Democratic Senate and House of Representatives of using the specter of a government shutdown and the Christmas recess as a “dual threat” to pass an undisclosed spending bill.

Lee, a Republican, has proposed a rolling resolution to fund the government by Feb. 4 so the next Congress can pass spending legislation for the rest of the fiscal year. The Senate rejected that proposal, but Lee said he would push it further.

“We haven’t seen the end yet. I will continue to offer it,” he said at a news conference in Washington on Wednesday.

Congressional leaders are targeting a vote this week on a short-term spending bill to keep the government running through December 23, giving them more time next week to draft and pass a full-year spending bill.

Lee said that if his continuing resolution were passed, it would allow Congress to approach the omnibus spending bill with “clear thinking” and not under the “blackmailing double threat of shutting down and missing the family Christmas holiday.” That’s the double threat that this type of spending practice exposes us to.”

Extending government spending to just December 23, as Democrats are proposing, makes a government shutdown more likely, not less likely, he said.

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A group of Republican Senators, from left: Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky.; Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.; and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, criticize Democrat spending and the current process of funding the government during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, December 14, 2022.

J Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

“Our approach reduces the risk of closure, yours increases it, quite deliberately,” Lee said. “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. That is its purpose.”

“You’ve put up an important must-pass bill, in this case a spending bill without which the government will close, you’ve put it right next to a planned pause,” he said. “The more critical and valued the pause, the greater the threat.”

Joining Lee at the press conference were Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc.; Rick Scott, R Fla.; and Rand Paul, R-Ky. They said they didn’t want a government shutdown.

Paul said “big government” Republicans were working with Democrats to pass “Christmas tree” legislation in the Lame Duck Congress.

“The Washington Christmas tree is a bill that has something for everyone,” he said. “You won’t know what it is until you have it, you won’t be able to read it until it’s done, but it will happen because the only thing that ever happens in Washington is they get together for money.” to spend.”

Lee said he doesn’t understand how Republicans would help Democrats pass a massive spending bill. Democrats, who control Congress and the White House, could have passed it before the election.

GOP senators said no one has seen the omnibus bill, but they expect it to be 2,000 to 3,000 pages long, filled with thousands of purpose statements and expenditures totaling about $1.6 trillion.

“We’ve been told it’s going to be a lot, that we’ve got to jump into it,” Lee said.

Lee said Congress could still pass an omnibus spending bill with its continuing resolution, although he would not vote for it.

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