New funding bill unveiled as lawmakers work to avoid government shutdown

A short-term funding bill was unveiled late Monday night as the deadline to fund the federal government fast approaches. Preventing a shutdown is just one of a laundry list of items lawmakers are scrambling to tackle before leaving town for the midterm election season. Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins joined Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    A short-term funding bill was unveiled late last night as the deadline to fund the federal government fast approaches.

    Preventing a shutdown is just one of a laundry list of items that lawmakers are scrambling to tackle before leaving town for the midterm election season.

    Our congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins is here with the latest.

    Hello, Lisa.

    So, Lisa, as we know, we're now just three days from the deadline for getting this funding thing figured out. Where does Congress stand?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Well, a funny thing happened just in the past couple of hours. This complicated knot of short-term funding seems to be untwisting itself.

    In the Senate, as you reported earlier, Senator Joe Manchin, who was a key figure in this funding fight, stepped back and sort of removed his requirement for the short-term funding bill, which was, as we talked about last week, permitting reform, especially dealing with energy permitting.

    He said he realized — he didn't say it this way, but, essentially, Judy, he didn't have the votes. He realized he did not have the votes to get past a procedural hurdle tonight, did not have 60 votes. And rather than hold up the short-term funding bill with his demand, he took that demand off.

    Now, if we look at the Senate floor right now, as we speak, look at this. This is actually the quiet sign of progress. Look at that, no drama. But, as you know, in the modern Senate, when it's quiet, usually, that's a good sign. This is the Senate right now voted on the procedural vote to move to this funding bill.

    And let's talk a little bit about what exactly would be in this funding bill, because these must-pass vehicles are important policy instruments sometimes as well, funds government through December 16. Now, in addition to that, there's $12 billion in Ukraine aid. Some of that would go to the government of Ukraine. Some of it is military aid, all sorts of funding for Ukraine.

    Also, there's $3 billion in here that would be transferred to help with resettlement of Afghans who made it to this country. And then there's $20 million also for Mississippi water infrastructure, so — and also some housing money in this as well. So, this is going to be a significant bill, not just for continuing funding of government, but for some specific problems.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But there are also the critics out there. What are they saying about this bill?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    It's simple.

    Democrats and the Biden administration are very disappointed because the president's request for tens of billions of dollars to help with monkeypox and also the coronavirus is not in this bill. One of the reasons it's not is the president himself saying on "60 Minutes" just over a week ago, that, in his words, the pandemic is over.

    The White House went out to explain, well, that just means that we still have work to do. But Republicans are using that statement to say, we don't want to fund that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, that is happening. And we know it's a busy week in general.

    Tell us now about the January 6 Committee…

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    … announcing today they're postponing or canceling tomorrow's hearing, which had been scheduled right up until now, and also where we stand on election — electoral reform.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    One of those interesting days today on Capitol Hill, little bits of news that were important.

    The January 6 postponement, let's read what the committee said in its statement about what they were doing. I know you reported this earlier.

    But they wrote that: "In light of Hurricane Ian bearing down on parts of Florida, we have decided to postpone tomorrow's proceedings. We're praying for the safety of all those in the storm's path."

    Now, one of the representatives on the January 6 Select Committee. Of course, Stephanie Murphy, is a Florida representative. Her district is in the path, potentially, of the hurricane. It's more internal. It's not on the Gulf Coast. It shouldn't be a Category 3 hurricane that reaches there, but that was one factor.

    Another, Judy, though, my sources telling me, multiple sources telling me the committee did not want to compete with potential cable news coverage of a hurricane bearing down. They wanted people to watch their meeting, their hearing, and they didn't think that tomorrow would be a good opportunity. They were concerned about safety, but they were also concerned about viewership.

    And that's one reason this will be postponed indefinitely. Not a lot of time before the midterms. We don't know if we will see this before the election.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And on election — electoral reform, what are you hearing about that?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    A breakthrough on that as well today.

    In the Senate, the Senate Rules Committee passed its version of a bill that would reform that Electoral Count Act, trying to prevent a January 6-style run at overturning the election results. That passed 14-1. Only Senator Ted Cruz was a no. He said it's too federalizing of elections, but, other than that, overwhelming support for it, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who came out today saying he supports that reform.

    I think we should watch for that to come together, again, after the midterm elections.

    One other note, we're watching for the STOCK Act. That is a bill that would prevent members of Congress from trading stocks while in office. That could get a vote in the House this week. But the votes are very close on that. It's not clear it has the votes to pass.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    A lot going on.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You can tell we're getting close to Congress having to finish up.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Nothing like the clock to motivate Congress.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Nothing like the clock.

    Lisa Desjardins, thank you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

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