Senate Dems say they have votes to block spending bill as shutdown edges closer
Senate Democrats say they have secured the votes to block a House plan to fund the government through mid-February.
A Democratic aide confirmed that the caucus will be able to block Republicans from getting the 60 votes needed to overcome an initial procedural hurdle.
“Yes. And with the Republicans it’s not close,” the staffer told The Hill, asked whether Democrats will be able to block the legislation.
Three Republicans — Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Mike Rounds (S.D.) — have also said they will oppose the House plan, bringing the total opponents to 41.
According to The Hill’s whip list, 38 Democratic senators are prepared to vote “no” on the GOP bill in addition to the three Republicans.
Democratic Sens. Maggie Hassan (N.H.) and Tina Smith (Minn.) were the latest Democrats to publicly say they would oppose the bill.
Another 10 Democrats are undecided or unclear, according to The Hill’s list, but it’s possible some of them could also vote against the House GOP’s legislation.
That bill also must still be approved by the House, where conservatives are opposing it.
House GOP leaders have voiced optimism throughout Thursday that they will be able to pass the bill, but House Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) has insisted they do not have the 218 votes needed.
The government would shut down on Saturday without a new funding bill.
The Senate could take its first vote on the bill as soon as Thursday evening, though the chamber’s rulebook would allow opponents to delay a first vote until early Saturday morning — past the shutdown deadline.
GOP leadership signaled on Thursday that they would move forward with the House bill as they angle to blame the shutdown on Democrats.
“We can pass a noncontroversial bipartisan bill to keep the government open or Democrats in Congress can manufacture a crisis and force a government shutdown over the entirely unrelated issue, the entirely unrelated issue of illegal immigration, which we have until March at the very least to resolve,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.
But Democrats counter that Republicans left them out of the negotiating process and want concessions on issues ranging from health care spending to immigration.
A bipartisan group of senators has floated passing a days-long continuing resolution to buy negotiators more time to work out a deal on the budget and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which the Trump administration is ending.
But Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, shot down the proposal leaving a GOP caucus meeting, calling it a “futile effort” without a larger budget deal.
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