Appropriation bills stall in Senate

Senate leaders could not agree Thursday on an amendment process to a “minibus” spending bill that aims to fund parts of the government after September.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBlack Caucus demands Flint funding from GOP Report: Intelligence officials probing Trump adviser's ties to Russia White House preps agencies for possible shutdown MORE (D-Nev.) tried to get unanimous consent to hold votes on germane amendments to the three appropriations bills as long as passage was held to a 60-vote threshold. 

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“Senators on both sides have said they want to have amendments and we should have amendment votes,” Reid said. “We’re going to have the ability to offer germane amendments and we will follow the ‘McConnell rule’ and hold amendments to 60 votes.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump slams Obama for ‘shameful’ 9/11 bill veto GOP chairman lobbies against overriding Obama on 9/11 bill Black Caucus demands Flint funding from GOP MORE (R-Ky.) objected, saying only controversial amendments should be held to a 60-vote threshold.

“We’re being shut out of amendments,” McConnell said. “When will we start legislating again?”

The Senate is now officially considering H.R. 4660, a $120 billion “minibus” spending bill that funds the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. But it seems unlikely that progress will be made on the legislation until an amendment process agreement is reached. 

Earlier this week, the Senate voted 95-3 to end debate on the motion to proceed, but Republicans have complained that Reid has allowed only nine votes on Republican amendments since last July.

"I’ve never seen the majority stifling amendments like they are right now," Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchInternet companies dominate tech lobbying Senate panel approves pension rescue for coal miners Overnight Tech: GOP says internet fight isn't over | EU chief defends Apple tax ruling | Feds roll out self-driving car guidelines | Netflix's China worries MORE (R-Utah) said. "It’s pathetic and it’s got to change."

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiBlack Caucus demands Flint funding from GOP GOP puts shutdown squeeze play on Dems Overnight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas MORE (D-Md.) and ranking member Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) will likely spend the weekend trying to figure out a way to proceed.