Greg Nash

The Senate’s work on a short-term spending bill is slipping into next week.

{mosads}Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday got unanimous consent, which requires the agreement of every senator, to set up a first procedural vote at 5:30 p.m. Monday on a House appropriations bill that will be used as a vehicle for the continuing resolution (CR).

The Senate had expected to hold a first vote this week after wrapping up work on a water infrastructure bill.

Top lawmakers hedged when pressed about the timing of a deal, noting they had hoped to announce something this week. 

“I don’t know if we’ll have [an agreement] by Friday, but listen: I think we could be on our way by Monday,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) told reporters. 

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said that the text of the deal would be released before the initial vote.

Lawmakers are struggling to iron out a handful of contentious policy fights, including funding for Planned Parenthood.

Democrats have pledged to block any spending measure that includes restrictions on funding for Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico as part of the funding package to combat the spread of the Zika virus.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) expressed optimism that they were close to a deal that would provide $1.1 billion to fight the mosquito-borne virus, which can cause birth defects in the newborns of pregnant women who contract the disease.

“I think that [Republicans] realize that they’ve got to get rid of political riders on that,” he said. “I think that is … going in that direction, with McConnell behind it.”

Cornyn and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) also noted that Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s push to block the transfer of management of the internet to an international body is still part of the negotiations, but nothing has been resolved.

Thune said he believes leadership will reach a deal this weekend — one that would include at least a delay of the internet authority transfer, which is slated to occur Oct. 1. 

If that happens, he believes the Senate could still leave by mid-next week.

“If things come together over the weekend, and I hope they will, we could wrap this up in the middle of next week,” Thune said of the stopgap spending bill.

The Senate’s short-term funding bill is expected to last through Dec. 9. The timeline has earned pushback from House conservatives who want to avoid a lame-duck session of Congress.

Lawmakers want to wrap up work on the funding bill next week. The move would allow vulnerable Senate incumbents to get back on the campaign trail, as Republicans defend 24 seats this cycle to Democrats’ 10.

Cornyn, noting the Senate will be in session next week, said “any thought of adjourning early was irrational exuberance.”

— This report was updated at 1:40 p.m.

Tags Barbara Mikulski Bill Nelson John Cornyn John Thune Mitch McConnell Ted Cruz
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