Cornyn: We'll need at least one more stopgap funding bill

Cornyn: We'll need at least one more stopgap funding bill
© Greg Nash

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy O'Rourke says he will not 'in any scenario' run for Senate MORE (R-Texas) warned Wednesday that Congress will need at least one additional continuing resolution, arguing Democrats are holding disaster aid and budget negotiations "hostage" over immigration.

"As a result of the shutdown, the Democratic leader ... [has] guaranteed us at least two more continuing resolutions, even if the spending caps were agreed upon in the next few days," Cornyn said on the Senate floor.

An aide for the No. 2 Republican senator said he meant two including the current stopgap measure.

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Congress passed a continuing resolution Monday that funds the government through Feb. 8. They're expected to have to keep passing stopgap measures until they get a deal on budget caps and have time to write a larger bill for the rest of fiscal 2018.

Republicans are accusing Democrats of refusing to an agreement on lifting the budget caps and avoiding across-the-board spending cuts until they get an agreement on a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — a program that provides work permits and protection from deportation for certain immigrants brought to the country as children.

"The other issue we've got to address ... is budget caps. That's another issue that's been held hostage by this unrelated immigration issue known as DACA, which everybody has heard so much about," Cornyn said.

Cornyn told reporters separately that the fight over immigration could push a deal on spending caps into March and that appropriators would need time to write a longer-funding bill once those are hammered out.

It's unlikely that Democrats would let the next continuing resolution go past the March 5 deadline to pass a legislative fix for DACA unless they have a larger immigration deal by the Feb. 8 deadline to prevent another government shutdown.

Cornyn told reporters Wednesday afternoon that, no matter when the spending caps are locked in, there will need to be another continuing resolution "just in order to write the bill."

He also urged negotiators to get a spending caps deal before the end of the current stopgap "because I am skeptical whether the House, in particular, will vote for another continuing resolution."

A coalition of fiscal and defense hawks in the House have been increasingly frustrated about the back-to-back stopgap bills.

Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyIn-space refueling vs heavy lift? NASA and SpaceX choose both Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown Trump border fight throws curveball into shutdown prospects MORE (R-Ala.), the No. 2 Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said on Wednesday that he hoped the next stopgap measure was the final one but he wasn't sure.

Updated at 4 p.m. to clarify Cornyn's comments