Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is teeing up the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill approved earlier Thursday by the House to stave off a possible government shutdown that would begin at midnight Friday.
McConnell filed cloture on the mammoth funding bill from the Senate floor early Thursday evening.
The move sets up an initial vote on the legislation for early Saturday morning — roughly an hour after the deadline to prevent the third shutdown of the year — at the earliest.
After that, senators could drag out debate on a bill for an additional 30 hours, which could set up a final vote on Sunday.
Republicans have made it clear they want to vote Thursday, allowing lawmakers to leave for a two-week recess as scheduled.
But in order to do that, McConnell needs the consent of every senator — including GOP Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.).
Paul, who forced an hours-long shutdown last month, has kept his colleagues in the dark about his intentions.
Instead, he’s been tweeting out his progress reading the 2000-plus page bill.
“Page 281 of ‘crumni-bus,’ ” he tweeted
shortly after 4:30 p.m.
Republican senators acknowledge they have no idea what he’s planning.
“I think people realize the handwriting is on the wall,” said GOP Sen. John Cornyn (Texas). “I just figured I would let him speak up if he wants to speak, and if he doesn’t we’ll vote.”
– This story was updated at 7:30 p.m.