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Senate puts House Republicans in a stalemate over fight against government funding


WASHINGTON — The Senate is showing a rare unified front on government funding, putting pressure on the Republican-led House as it nears a Sept. 30 deadline to avoid a shutdown.

All 12 funding bills passed the Senate Appropriations Committee based on bipartisan votes — some unanimous — and senators appear triumphant at completing the task.

“The Senate supply process has been a shining example of how things should be done in Washington,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., told reporters on Wednesday. times when people are divided. It is a tightly divided room. Nonetheless, we can sum up the Senate’s work on government finance in one word: bipartisan.”

The Democratic-led chamber plans to vote on the first three bills — military construction and veterans affairs, agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, and transportation and housing — starting in Monday.

Senate Republican leaders are even warning Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., that his partisan approach to funding the government by cutting spending and advancing divisive Conservative measures will get nowhere in the Senate. They say that if McCarthy continues to struggle to muster the votes in support of funding legislation in a deeply divided House, he may simply tackle the Senate bills.

“They’re going to have to figure out if they can move any other bills forward,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune, RS.D. “If they can’t, then they could grab the Senate vehicles and find a way to try to process them in the House.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last week that the House GOP path would cut spending below the levels agreed to in the budget deal McCarthy brokered with President Joe Biden.

“Without expressing an opinion on this, it will not be replicated in the Senate,” McConnell said.

In a joint statement, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Vice Chair Susan Collins, R-Maine, hailed the upcoming votes as “a critical next step as we continue to working collaboratively in the Senate to maintain our government”. finance. »

It represents a reversal of the dynamic of debt ceiling negotiations, when the Senate was split and unable to pass a bill while House Republicans approved their version along party lines, giving McCarthy the advantage to obtain concessions.

This time, McCarthy and House Republicans are struggling to pass appropriations bills while senators feel emboldened.

“We’ve shown that it’s not that hard to get not only Republican support, but also conservative Republican support, for these budget bills. I think that increases the pressure on McCarthy to come to the table,” said Conn Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy. “McCarthy is going to find himself grappling with a public pretty convinced that if things are falling apart here, it’s the House Republicans’ fault.”

Sen. Jon Tester, Democrat of Mount, was even more blunt: “The best thing they can do is take all the work done by the Senate and embrace it, because we are doing a better job. I say this partly as a joke, but it is a fact.

“We shouldn’t be playing games like shutting down the government,” Tester added. “It’s bull—-. Let’s do this thing.

The pressure from the Senate highlights the challenge McCarthy will face when the House returns next week. He publicly warned his GOP members that the Senate was overwhelmingly passing appropriations bills and that the House needed to pass its own to have a chance of securing conservative priorities.

Hardliners in the Republican Party in the House of Representatives are demanding not only spending cuts but also controversial additional measures on issues such as immigration and cuts to federal funds for prosecutors who have won the indictment of former President Donald Trump. And the House Freedom Caucus is rebelling against the prospect of a short-term spending bill, which McCarthy and Senate leaders say will be needed to buy more time.

McCarthy told House Republicans that he “would not support any sort of game against the holidays that would allow Senate Democrats to get leverage, an omnibus (a catch-all spending bill) or a long-term continuing resolution that would lock down Democratic priorities. said a McCarthy spokesperson. “Any short-term CR would only be needed to continue working in due order on bills that include Republican priorities to cut bureaucracy spending and make necessary changes to federal policy and refocus our military on the combat capabilities and defense of the United States. our nation. »

Still, it raises the question of whether McCarthy will need Democratic votes to prevent a government shutdown and whether that could lead some of the hardliners to trigger a ‘motion to leave’ the president’s chair and attempt to overthrow him. . In its narrow majority, losing even a handful of votes could spell the end of its hold on the hammer.

“That is the challenge facing the speaker. In my opinion, he’ll only push something through with Democratic votes, and that’s what will put him at risk if the motion is overturned,” Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said Wednesday. member of the Freedom Caucus. NBC’s “Meet the Press Now.”

“I don’t think the speaker will get enough Republican votes for a continuing resolution in the next few weeks to be able to pass this continuing resolution,” Buck said.