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GOP senator threatened to hold up bill over provision to honor late political rival: report

GOP senator threatened to hold up bill over provision to honor late political rival: report
© Greg Nash

A GOP senator attempted to hold up Congress’s massive spending bill over a provision that would have renamed a wilderness preserve after a former political rival, CNN reported Friday.

Idaho Rep. Mike SimpsonMIchael (Mike) Keith SimpsonOvernight Energy: Trump reportedly set to weaken methane rule | Exxon appeals climate case to Supreme Court | California commits to 100 percent clean energy | Tribes sue over Keystone XL pipeline Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog to probe Superfund panel | Zinke opens more wildlife refuges to hunting | House to vote on energy spending bill next week GOP shrugs off Trump shutdown threat MORE (R) had included a measure in the spending bill that would rename the state’s White Clouds Wilderness to the "Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness" preserve, after the state’s former Democratic governor and Carter administration Interior secretary. Andrus died last year.

However, Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) approached GOP Senate leadership about the provision on Thursday as the Senate was preparing to vote on the bill, according to CNN. Sources told the network that Risch was threatening to oppose any vote on the bill.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMeghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family Schumer: Fight for Senate is 'neck and neck' Nikki Haley powerfully rebuts Trump MORE (R-Ky.) and Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke debate showdown Live coverage: Cruz faces O'Rourke in Texas debate showdown Trump, Feinstein feud intensifies over appeals court nominees MORE (R-Texas) held a late meeting with Risch as GOP leaders pushed to hold a vote on the $1.3 trillion spending bill late Thursday.

Meanwhile, a 2008 article that mentioned Risch’s political rivalry with Andrus reportedly circulated among Senate reporters on Thursday.

Risch declined to comment when asked if he was objecting to the spending bill.

“No. What part of no don’t you understand?" he told reporters between votes late Thursday. "Do I have a problem with my English? I don’t have any comment.”

Shortly before the Senate voted on the spending bill, the chamber adopted an enrollment correction to strike a provision renaming the wildlife refuge.

However, the provision would need to pass the House, and members of Senate GOP leadership said that would not happen.

Cornyn told reporters the name of the wilderness preserve would not be changed due to "an objection in the House." 

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP loads up lame-duck agenda as House control teeters Congress moves to ensure the greater availability of explosives detecting dogs in the US McConnell sets key Kavanaugh vote for Friday MORE (R-Mo.), asked how the situation was resolved, appeared to pivot to check that Risch, who had just walked by, was no longer standing behind him. 

Blunt said "whatever was in the bill" was staying in the legislation.

Speculation had already been stoked that another GOP senator, Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Noisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks MORE, may object to holding a speedy vote on the massive omnibus spending measure Thursday.

The Kentucky senator, who forced an hours-long shutdown last month, had tweeted throughout the day about his progress reading the more than 2,000 page bill.

Senators voted Thursday night after midnight to approve the bill ahead of a deadline Friday night to avoid a third government shutdown this year.

Updated: 1:17 a.m.