Biden Administration Urges Congress to Pass Stop-Gap Spending Plan to Avoid Shutdown

The Biden administration plans to spend the coming days lobbying members of Congress to fast-track a stop-gap spending measure to avoid a federal government shutdown at the end of the month, while also providing additional funding for disaster recovery efforts and the relocating thousands of people from Afghanistan after the Taliban's takeover.

Administration officials told Newsweek that the temporary plan would give Congress more time to hash out an agreement on a larger $3.5 trillion package that includes new social programs, including universal pre-K, expanded Medicaid benefits, paid parental leave as well as measures to address climate change.

"With the end of the current fiscal year rapidly approaching, it's clear that Congress will need to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to provide more time for the annual appropriations process to play out," one official said, noting that the White House plans to send guidance to U.S. House and Senate leaders by the end of the day.

The administration hasn't yet revealed how long the temporary budget should run, but have identified more than $20 billion that it says is needed to address aid for numerous natural disasters over the past year and assist the resettlement of Afghan allies who evacuated the country for safety.

"The President has been clear—states and communities impacted by Hurricane Ida and by other extreme weather events and natural disasters have the full support of the federal government," the official said. "We will also be strongly urging Congress to use the short-term CR to meet our commitments to Afghan allies and partners. The operation to move Afghans who worked with us over two decades in Afghanistan represents an extraordinary military, diplomatic, security and humanitarian mission by the U.S. government."

Another administration official said the money to respond to the end of the war in Afghanistan, which came to a close this month after nearly two decades, will go toward overseas operations, as well as plans for as many as 65,000 Afghan allies and partners to arrive in the United States by the end of September and up to 30,000 more in the next year.

Congress has frequently turned to stop-gap spending measures in recent years to prevent the federal government from shutting down when the new federal budget year starts October 1, when leaders haven't reached a final plan.

This year is complicated further as Democrats look to leverage their control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. Biden has backed a $1 trillion package for infrastructure upgrades across the country, as well as the more sweeping proposal that he's dubbed the "American Families Plan," which could spend as much as $3.5 trillion in a decade.

It's unclear when Congress might actually pass a long-term budget.

The House has begun debating specific pieces of the massive spending plan, but a final version will have to be negotiated between the House and Senate. Democrats hold a razor-thin majority in the Senate and will need every member for the measure to pass. Already some Democrats, including West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, have balked at the large price tag.

"The CR itself is an opportunity to address specific urgent needs facing our country right now," one official said. "It also provides time to reach bipartisan agreement on smart full-year appropriations bills."

The disaster assistance money the Biden administration is pushing for would address natural disasters stretching back for months.

"Climate change is producing more severe natural disasters like the storms and wildfires," the official said. "We are seeing and witnessing more intense and fast-moving storms, extreme heat, drought, dangerous fire conditions, and record storms and seasons are becoming more common."

Biden urges Congress to avoid government shutdown
The Biden administration plans to spend the coming days lobbying members of Congress to fast-track a stop-gap spending measure to avoid a federal government shutdown at the end of the month. The US Capitol is seen in Washington, DC on September 1, 2021. Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images