McConnell: House conservatives’ cuts won’t happen in Senate, looming budget fight a ‘big mess’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said at an event in Kentucky on Wednesday that Congress will likely end up passing a short-term spending resolution to avoid a government shutdown.

Lawmakers in the upper chamber are slated to return to Washington from their summer recess Tuesday and will have to hustle to either advance a dozen federal spending measures before the end of the month or produce a continuing resolution that will keep money flowing to the government.

Mr. McConnell said the latter would be more likely.

“I think we will end up with a short-term [continuing] resolution probably into December as we struggled to figure out exactly what the government’s spending level is gonna be next year,” the Kentucky Republican said.

Mr. McConnell described the upcoming spending fight and possibility of a shutdown as a “pretty big mess.”

He added that he backs the debt-ceiling deal ironed out earlier this year by President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the spending levels that came with it.

But then the GOP-led House turned around and passed spending legislation with spending levels well below the caps set in the debt-ceiling deal, Mr. McConnell said.

“That’s not going to be replicated in the Senate,” he said.

Also baked into the debt-ceiling deal is a hard January deadline that if not met, will enact an automatic 1% slash in federal spending across the board.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, and Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, have both said they are in favor of a stopgap spending measure.

Mr. McCarthy has said that he hopes to avoid a massive omnibus, which would cram all 12 of the spending measures into one piece of legislation at the end of the year.

Producing a measure to fund the government on the current fiscal year’s spending levels will not be an easy task for Mr. McCarthy.

The House Freedom Caucus set out a list of demands for a continuing resolution.

To earn the support of the 40-member caucus, House leadership will have to include the Secure the Border Act, address what the caucus sees as the weaponization of the Department of Justice and gut “woke” Pentagon policies in a stopgap spending measure.

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