Stop-gap funding bill would include aid for states facing natural disasters

Congress is expected to take up a bill this month that would fund the government through early December.

The short-term continuing resolution would avoid a partial government shutdown before midterm elections and give the current Congress time to craft an omnibus fiscal 2023 bill during the lame-duck session.

The tentative bill would continue fiscal year 2022 funding levels to Dec. 16, which is when the House is set to adjourn for the year. The legislation may also feature so-called anomalies – including for infrastructure projects – that would allow for higher spending or extended timelines.

The stop-gap bill is needed because Congress has not yet passed any of the 12 fiscal 2023 appropriations bills. In July, the House passed six FY23 spending bills totaling $405 billion, but that’s been the only action so far.

The Biden administration Friday said it wants the continuing resolution to include roughly $43 billion of additional emergency spending, starting with $22.4 billion for COVID-related needs and $13.7 billion for Ukraine. Another $6.5 billion would help states, tribes and territories, including Kentucky, recover from natural disasters in 2021 and boost the resiliency of the electric grid.

“As is always the case, we understand that Congress will consider additional legislation as part of the CR alongside the funding request we are submitting today, and look forward to working with Congress on those pieces of legislation as they are considered,” said Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young in a Sept. 2 blog post.

The $6.5 billion for natural disasters includes $1.4 billion in Community Development Block Grants for unmet recovery needs in California, Louisiana and Texas; $1.5 billion in direct payments to farmers who have disaster-related losses; $150 million for electric grid resilience; and $2.9 billion “to ensure FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund has sufficient funding to address disaster costs expected to materialize in FY 2022 and FY2023,” according to a breakdown of the White House request.

The supplemental requests may make it more difficult to pass the continuing resolution, which requires bipartisan support to secure the necessary 60 votes in the Senate.

The White House also urged lawmakers to include an anomaly for National Infrastructure Investment grants, saying the CR should include language that gives the Department of Transportation authority to extend the availability of funding for National Infrastructure Investment grants that is set to expire on September 30 until next September. “Without this anomaly, certain state and local governments may lose funding awarded for transportation projects,” the administration said in a continuing resolutions appropriations document provided to lawmakers.

The House is set to consider the bill the week of Sept. 12.