Senate Dems play hardball on funding bill
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats are warning that they will not accept a plan by House conservatives to pair a full year of defense funding with a short-term fix for other programs.

"We write to express our concern with reports that the House Republican leadership is considering sending partisan legislation to the Senate that would result in funding cuts to important homeland security, veterans, agriculture and health care programs," 44 of the caucus's 48 members wrote in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — McConnell, Kaine offer bill to raise tobacco buying age to 21 | Measles outbreak spreads to 24 states | Pro-ObamaCare group launches ad blitz to protect Dems MORE (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Debate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 MORE (R-Wis.).

They said Republicans should "forego any plans to consider partisan legislation known as a 'CRomnibus.'"

The letter comes as leadership is locked down in negotiations with the White House ahead of next week's Dec. 22 deadline to fund the government. 

House conservatives are pushing leadership to take up a "cromnibus" that would pair defense funding through the end of September with a short-term continuing resolution for nondefense programs. 

Democrats warn that they will not let the bill pass the Senate, where Republicans need their support to help pass legislation and avoid a government shutdown. 

"There is a better path — let the bipartisan negotiation continue in good faith so that Democrats and Republicans can produce a budget agreement that fully funds our homeland security, health care, and Veterans’ needs. If presented with partisan legislation that leaves these key priorities behind, we will oppose it," they wrote. 

With a 52-seat majority, Republicans would need to win over at least eight Democratic senators to pass a government funding bill.

Lawmakers are hoping to lock down a separate deal on raising the budget caps by next week. They would then pass a short-term continuing resolution into January, giving staffers enough time to write the full-year funding bill.