Senate Dems signal they'll support domestic spending package

Senate Dems signal they'll support domestic spending package
© Greg Nash

Top Senate Democrats signaled on Monday that they will support moving a package of four noncontroversial government spending bills, breaking a months-long stalemate. 

“The first package of bills, four of the five are not controversial. ... On those four moving forward would be fine thing,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) said from the Senate floor.

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh Al Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' Labor Day: No justice for whistleblowers MORE (D-Vt.), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, added that the plan was “exactly what Sen. [Richard] Shelby [R-Ala.] and I said should be done.”

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Republicans have teed up two packages of spending bills for the floor this week. 

The first, according to a release from Shelby, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, would include transportation and housing and urban development, commerce, justice and science, agriculture and interior. Each of the four bills passed out of the committee with bipartisan support. 

“On the bills where there is agreement, we would be happy to move forward,” Schumer added. 

If Democrats allow the spending package to be taken up on the Senate floor, it would be the first time the chamber has taken up a fiscal 2020 bill.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' MORE (R-Ky.) previously tried to bring up a spending package that would have included a mammoth defense spending bill in September, but Democrats blocked it.

The second package Republicans want to move this week would include defense spending. But Schumer indicated Monday that there were several appropriations bills, including defense, that Democrats would not support moving. 

Republicans need 60 votes in the Senate to move funding bills. 

The government is funded through Nov. 21. To avoid a shutdown, lawmakers will need to pass either the 12 individual appropriations bills or another continuing resolution (CR).

The Senate has passed none of the 12 bills, while the House has passed 10.

Shelby urged his colleagues to support taking up the package. 

“These bills provide funding for domestic priorities across the nation that play a significant role in maintaining our economic prosperity, and each received unanimous support in committee. We need to consider and pass this package expeditiously so we can take up the defense package,” Shelby said.