GOP senator threatened to hold up bill over provision to honor late political rival: report

GOP senator threatened to hold up bill over provision to honor late political rival: report
© Greg Nash

A GOP senator attempted to hold up Congress’s massive spending bill over a provision that would have renamed a wilderness preserve after a former political rival, CNN reported Friday.

Idaho Rep. Mike SimpsonMIchael (Mike) Keith Simpson'Minibus' spending conference committee abruptly canceled Five things to know about efforts to repeal Obama's water rule Key conservative presses for shield law after seizure of NYT reporter’s records MORE (R) had included a measure in the spending bill that would rename the state’s White Clouds Wilderness to the "Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness" preserve, after the state’s former Democratic governor and Carter administration Interior secretary. Andrus died last year.

However, Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) approached GOP Senate leadership about the provision on Thursday as the Senate was preparing to vote on the bill, according to CNN. Sources told the network that Risch was threatening to oppose any vote on the bill.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Sen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ky.) and Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances Sentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE (R-Texas) held a late meeting with Risch as GOP leaders pushed to hold a vote on the $1.3 trillion spending bill late Thursday.

Meanwhile, a 2008 article that mentioned Risch’s political rivalry with Andrus reportedly circulated among Senate reporters on Thursday.

Risch declined to comment when asked if he was objecting to the spending bill.

“No. What part of no don’t you understand?" he told reporters between votes late Thursday. "Do I have a problem with my English? I don’t have any comment.”

Shortly before the Senate voted on the spending bill, the chamber adopted an enrollment correction to strike a provision renaming the wildlife refuge.

However, the provision would need to pass the House, and members of Senate GOP leadership said that would not happen.

Cornyn told reporters the name of the wilderness preserve would not be changed due to "an objection in the House." 

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP senator pushes back on Trump’s attacks on Maxine Waters’s intelligence Pair of DC fundraisers aims to boost McCaskill challenger Kansas City mayoral candidate: Trump is trying to define patriotism MORE (R-Mo.), asked how the situation was resolved, appeared to pivot to check that Risch, who had just walked by, was no longer standing behind him. 

Blunt said "whatever was in the bill" was staying in the legislation.

Speculation had already been stoked that another GOP senator, Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulArizona GOP Senate candidate defends bus tour with far-right activist Trump plays 'quick round of golf' with Rand Paul in New Jersey Hillicon Valley: Trump escalates feud with intel critics | Tesla shares fall after troubling Musk interview | House panel considers subpoena for Twitter's Jack Dorsey | Why Turkish citizens are breaking their iPhones MORE, may object to holding a speedy vote on the massive omnibus spending measure Thursday.

The Kentucky senator, who forced an hours-long shutdown last month, had tweeted throughout the day about his progress reading the more than 2,000 page bill.

Senators voted Thursday night after midnight to approve the bill ahead of a deadline Friday night to avoid a third government shutdown this year.

Updated: 1:17 a.m.