Why is “23” significant?
Is it because it was Michael Jordan’s number; or is it because that’s how many total days remain until Congress must fund the government, as Playbook reported Wednesday morning?
MJ’s greatness is for another post, on another platform, but let’s unpack what must get done by Congress in the next few weeks to keep the lights on.
Congress has only nine (9) legislative days to pass and the White House to sign a temporary, short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government and to reach a deal to lift the funding caps on defense and non-defense. These two great hurdles, once cleared, will pave the way to focus on not just the funding details of the omnibus, but the policy riders that at times have brought these negotiations to a halt and on the must-have policy proposals that guarantee the passage of the omnibus.
The challenge of a short-term CR is agreeing to the length of time. Speaker Ryan is playing hardball by suggesting a CR that expires in late December. He wants to continue to put the pressure on Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement quickly, to pass a relatively clean omnibus appropriations bill for the remainder of the fiscal year.
From where I used to sit, such a strategy often backfires as long as one party controlled the fate of the final omnibus bill. No funding bill can pass Congress and is signed into law without getting 60 votes in the Senate. But more importantly, and at times forgotten, without getting the support of a majority of House Democrats. And while there is a push for a late December agreement, there is a lot of work ahead as long as good faith, bipartisan negotiations continue off the court.