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Manchin urging colleagues to block funding bill as shutdown looms

Manchin urging colleagues to block funding bill as shutdown looms
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinBitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  Susan Collins and the American legacy MORE (D-W.Va.) is urging his colleagues to block a short-term government spending bill with hours left before the government shuts down. 

Spokesman Jonathon Kott on Friday confirmed that Manchin is calling his colleagues and asking them to oppose the continuing resolution (CR) over an entrenched fight on miners healthcare. 

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The CR includes a four-month extension of health benefits for thousands of miners and their families, but Manchin and other Democrats want that extended to a year. 

Unless Manchin backs down, the Senate won't be able to take a vote until Saturday morning, blowing the Friday night deadline to avoid a government shutdown. 

Democrats have stopped short of saying they will ultimately block the CR while stressing they are sympathetic to the miners and their families. 

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation Democrats brace for nail-biting finish to Senate battle Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat in the next Congress, downplayed the chances of a shutdown, telling reporters that he didn't believe there was an "appetite" for closing the government. 

"What we’re trying to do is to make it clear that we think it should be more than several months," he said. "I don’t believe that there’s an appetite for shutting down the government."  

It's unclear whether Manchin has the 41 votes needed to ultimately block the CR. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop Senate GOP super PAC makes final .6M investment in Michigan Senate race On The Money: McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 | Lawmakers see better prospects for COVID deal after election Overnight Health Care: House Dem report blasts Trump coronavirus response | Regeneron halts trial of antibody drug in sickest hospitalized patients | McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 MORE (R-Ky.) pressed Democrats to drop their opposition the CR on Friday morning, pledging to work with them next year to extend retired miners' health benefits past April. 

"Would I have preferred that [the continuing resolution] provision to be more generous? Of course I would have," he said. "My request to the House was to fund it for a full year, but we'll be back at it in April and I think it's highly unlikely it will be taken away." 
 

CNN first reported Manchin's efforts.