As shutdown looms, Grassley says spending bill expected by Dec. 22

By: - December 14, 2022 4:48 pm

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, attended the Republican 4th Congressional District convention in Carroll on April 23, 2022. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Republicans have made progress over the past week in negotiations over the upcoming spending bills as Congress seeks to avoid a government shutdown.

The Republican senator told reporters Wednesday he would wait until the text of the appropriations legislation is released before saying whether he will support it. But he did say Democrats agreed to some GOP demands in recent talks about the omnibus spending measure’s framework.

Republicans have pushed for a 10% increase in defense spending for the upcoming year but denied Democrats’ calls to increase spending on domestic programs by the same amount, citing the high cost of the Inflation Reduction Act passed earlier this year.

“We went to the Democrats and said, ‘You have gotten $750 billion of goodies that you wanted when you passed a reconciliation bill in August, the Green New Deal and all that sort of stuff,'” Grassley said. “So we as Republicans, we’re not going to go along with” further increases.

Democrats conceded that point in negotiations this weekend, Grassley said. But the spending measure’s text remains unknown as Congress faces a midnight Friday deadline to pass a measure to avoid a government shutdown. The federal legislature is expected to approve a one-week continuing resolution to avoid a shutdown Friday to give negotiators until Dec. 23 to pass the larger spending bill, which would fund the federal government through Sept. 30, 2023.

Grassley said he believed they would get the bill by Dec. 22, but whether the spending measure will pass remains up in the air. If the current Congress does not pass the government funding legislation by the end of the year, President Joe Biden and Democrats could face new challenges in avoiding the shutdown while working with the Republican-led U.S. House in 2023.

Senate Republicans have said they are working with Democrats to reach a bipartisan spending agreement, but some House Republicans have said they oppose passing a spending measure before the GOP takes control of the House.

While Grassley said the sooner Congress approves spending the more efficient government will be, it’s still possible for the measure to fail in the few remaining weeks of 2022.

“If something would fall through on that, then we’re going to get a continuing resolution into next year,” Grassley said. “Probably into the middle of February, I would guess.”

Grassley unlikely to back caucus candidate

The longtime Republican senator also said Wednesday that he will not likely put his political weight behind any 2024 presidential candidates in the Iowa Caucuses. While former President Donald Trump is the only current high-profile Republican who has announced a plan to run for president in the next election, many project another crowded field that could include candidates like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz, Rick Scott and Tom Cotton.

Trump endorsed both Grassley and Gov. Kim Reynolds ahead of the 2022 midterm election and appeared with the incumbent candidates at a Sioux City rally in November. But the Iowa Republicans have not commented on endorsing Trump in his 2024 bid to return to the White House.

The Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee passed a motion earlier this month stating that no state party staff, officers, committee members or Iowa Republican National Committee members will publicly endorse presidential candidates during the 2024 Iowa caucus cycle.

When asked about the party’s decision, Grassley said that he personally often avoids endorsing candidates ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Grassley supported candidate Bob Dole, a former U.S. Senator from Kansas, in 1996 because he was a friend, he said. The senator also supported former President George W. Bush in 2000.

But with few exceptions, Grassley said he believes he and other prominent Iowa politicians should stay neutral “because we want everybody to be welcome in Iowa.”

“Most of us that are elected to office in Iowa feel that if we start letting various candidates peel us off, and whoever Grassley or Gov. Reynolds would support, you know, might discourage other people from coming to Iowa,” he said. “And we want a massive debate going in Iowa, and a massive effort for people to travel our state and get people’s opinions and give their opinions as candidates. That, we think, that’s the strongest way to get our strongest candidate.”

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.