Politics: McConnell tees up government funding votes amid stalemate - - PressFrom - US
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Politics McConnell tees up government funding votes amid stalemate

23:55  17 october  2019
23:55  17 october  2019 Source:   thehill.com

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is turning the Senate toward trying to pass a set of long-stalled appropriations bills.

Mitch McConnell wearing a suit and tie: McConnell tees up government funding votes amid stalemate© Greg Nash McConnell tees up government funding votes amid stalemate

"Congress has fallen badly behind schedule on appropriations. It's been a month since my Democratic colleagues filibustered government funding here on the floor, blocking defense funding and a pay raise for service members. We need to get moving," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

McConnell said the Senate will try to take up two packages of spending bills next week. The first, in a fig leaf to Democrats, will include domestic priorities. The second package will include a mammoth defense bill, which is considered a top priority for Republicans.

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"In order to meet Democrats halfway, the first House shell we will vote on will be a package of the domestic funding bills. If we can get bipartisan support to take up that domestic funding bill, we will stay on it until we complete it," McConnell said.

McConnell's announcement comes as top appropriators, tasked with funding the government, have been meeting to try to break the stalemate that led to a short-term continuing resolution (CR).

Asked the GOP plan to bring up spending bills, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said on Thursday that "we've been talking about it" and that they've been "negotiating."

"I was just talking to Dick about that on the floor," Leahy said, referring to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). "Schumer and I and Pelosi and Lowey met earlier this morning. We're trying to work out something."

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McConnell added that he hoped Shelby and Leahy "can work together to craft" a deal on the package of domestic funding.

Shelby had first indicated on Wednesday that he believed they would try to move funding bills on the Senate floor this week.

He added on Thursday that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) hasn't promised him the Democratic caucus will support bringing up the government funding bills next week but that he had spoken with Democratic floor staff who indicated "we would be successful."

"The talk on the floor is that we're going to do okay," Shelby added.

Lawmakers need to pass the 12 appropriations bills, or another short-term patch, by Nov. 21 in order to avoid a shutdown next month.

So far the Senate has passed none of its fiscal year 2020 bills, while the House has passed 10 out of the 12.

The Senate previously tried to bring a mammoth package in September that would have included defense spending but Democrats opposed bringing up the bill.

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Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee rejected an amendment to the Senate defense bill that would have limited Trump's ability to redirect Pentagon funding toward the wall without congressional sign off.

It's unclear if Democrats will agree to pass the defense bill. Leahy said on Thursday that "defense is going to have to wait a bit."

Democrats have been fuming after Republicans forced through top-line spending figures, known as 302 b's, that they felt padded extra money into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).Shelby said on Thursday that they had not yet gotten a deal with House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) on the top-line figures but their staffs are talking.

In another hurdle spending talks, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announced Thursday that an upcoming G-7 summit would take place at Trump's own Doral resort in Florida.

Two of the House-passed spending bills, State and Foreign Operations and Financial Services and General Government, included language blocking the use of funds for the G-7 were it to be held at a Trump property.

Democrats quickly seized on Mulvaney's announcement.

"As we prepare to negotiate final appropriations bills, Senate Republicans will have to choose whether to stand up to this blatant corruption or once again allow President Trump to violate basic norms and profit off the Presidency," a press statement from the House Appropriations committee said.

- Niv Elis contributed

Spending bills crawl forward, but a second stopgap looms .
The Senate finally launched floor debate this week on bills to fund the federal government, but it looks increasingly possible that another stopgap spending bill will be needed amid battles over border fences and impeachment. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby. While leaders from both parties assure that a government shutdown is highly unlikely, so too is the prospect of clearing any of the fiscal 2020 spending bills by the time the current stopgap runs out on Nov. 21, necessitating another catchall continuing resolution to drag out funding at last year’s levels.

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