Since 1977, Congress has only passed all its required federal spending bills four times and in no year since 1997. It missed multiple deadlines this fall ranging from transportation to defense, debt ceiling and, of course, the federal spending legislation known as appropriations. In December, Washington is again racing the clock, and  they buy themselves more time when it runs out. Congress passed a law extending temporary funding for government operations into February, well past the end of fiscal year on September 30, having already extended the government shutdown showdown to December 3.

With their main responsibility now cleared from the December calendar, Congress this month is working to wrap up the National Defense Authorization Act, which has passed every year since 1961. The bill will likely pass because Senate Democrats are rushing to address the Build Back Better legislation that is at the center of President Biden’s policy priorities. Sources indicate Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) would like to put that roughly $1.5 trillion bill on the Senate floor the week of December 13. With only one week to negotiate a number of outstanding items, many are skeptical Democrats can resolve differences among themselves because they will need every member of their party with no Republicans supporting the legislation. If Democrats cannot clear the Senate in the next two weeks, insiders expect leadership to keep trying all the way up to Christmas, making for a tough holiday season.