McConnell tees up short-term funding bill
© Moriah Ratner
 
"I expect to move forward this week on a continuing resolution through Dec. 9 ... that includes funds for Zika control and for our veterans," the Senate Republican leader announced Monday on the Senate floor. 
 
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McConnell filed cloture on proceeding to a House legislative appropriations bill, which is expected to be the vehicle for the short-term continuing resolution (CR). The move sets up the Senate to take an initial procedural vote this week, once it wraps up work on a water infrastructure bill. 

Wrapping up the CR ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline could allow McConnell to get his conference out of Washington and back on the campaign trail. Republicans are defending 24 Senate seats, including a handful in states previously carried by Obama. 

The Senate is currently set to be in session through the first week of October. 

The floor action comes as congressional leadership is heading to the White House for a Monday afternoon meeting to discuss a government funding bill with President Obama.
 
The Senate Republican leader announced last week that he had started talks with Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidLobbying World Mitch McConnell is not invincible Seven big decisions facing Biden in 2020 primary MORE (D-Nev.) and the president over the path forward, and on Monday added that "we've made a lot of important progress already." 
 
McConnell's decision to back a bill that expires in December pits him against the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which wants a longer proposal that stretches into 2017 in an effort to skip a lame-duck session. They are worried Democrats would use the end-of-the-year meeting to break the budget caps. 

McConnell repeatedly said passing the 12 individual appropriations measures was his top 2016 goal, as Republicans aimed to make the case ahead of the November election that they could govern. 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Trump's immigration push faces Capitol Hill buzzsaw The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Restrictive state abortion laws ignite fiery 2020 debate MORE (R-Texas) on Monday blamed Democrats for the short-term funding bill, saying it "is the result of our Democratic colleagues filibustering the regular appropriations process." 

Democrats have vowed to block any proposal that goes past 2016.
 
And Reid added Monday that while he wouldn't lay down "markers," he feels any Zika funding should be separated from the Planned Parenthood fight that has stalled a separate bill in the Senate. 
 
"The Republicans need to get away from their vendetta," he said. "Planned Parenthood should not be part of Zika funding." 
 
Democrats have blocked a House-passed conference report with $1.1 billion to fight the virus three times because of concerns over a provision that would block funding for Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico.