Senate to start work on funding bills with shutdown deadline looming

Senate to start work on funding bills with shutdown deadline looming
© Greg Nash

Senators are set to start work on their fiscal 2020 government funding bills with only weeks to go until the deadline to avoid a government shutdown. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on four funding bills Thursday, according to a schedule released by Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Appropriators fume over reports of Trump plan to reprogram .2 billion for wall The Hill's Morning Report — Impeachment tug-of-war expected to end soon MORE (R-Ala.): defense; labor, health and human services, and education; energy and water; and state and foreign operations. 

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The panel will also vote on the top-line spending numbers, known as 302(b)s, for the 12 individual spending bills next week. 

The votes will mark the first package of fiscal 2020 funding bills to be taken up by the committee so far this year. While the House has passed 10 out of the 12 individual funding bills, the Senate put its legislation on hold while leadership and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE hashed out the two-year budget deal

Congress has until Oct. 1 to pass the fiscal 2020 funding bills or a continuing resolution (CR), which would give them more time to negotiate and temporarily continue funding at the fiscal 2019 levels.  

The plan for the Senate Appropriations Committee to move forward with its funding bills comes after House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse poised to hand impeachment articles to Senate House to vote on Iran war powers bills sought by progressives Khanna: Timing of Iran bill being weighed against getting bigger majority MORE (D-Md.) said in a letter to House Democrats that they are planning to bring up a CR during the week of Sept. 16 — the week after Congress returns from its current break.  

Senators have acknowledged that a CR of some form will be necessary to prevent a shutdown starting on Oct. 1.

But Senate appropriators are hoping to get at least one significant package to Trump's desk before the deadline, which would limit how much of the government has to be funded by a CR. 

Shelby has floated trying to get a bill that combines funding for defense; labor, health and human services, and education; and energy and water to Trump's desk. 

“It we did that, that would be over 70 percent of the expenditure,” Shelby told reporters about the package before the recess. “That would be progress big time.”