Top GOP senator warns of potential for brief shutdown
Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) warned on Thursday that the government could briefly shut down over the weekend as talks over a sweeping deal to pass funding and provide coronavirus relief drag on.
Asked about needing a days-long continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded past Friday night as talks continue, Thune indicated senators could block that from happening if leaders don’t have a larger deal in hand.
“I mean I’ve already — I know people who are gonna object to that, that want to keep pressure on the process until we get a deal,” he said.
“So, it would take consent obviously to do a short term CR,” Thune added.
Congress has until the end of Friday to either pass the deal on an omnibus and coronavirus aid — an unlikely long shot, lawmakers acknowledge, because it’s still being negotiated. If they don’t, they’ll need to buy themselves some more time by passing a CR to prevent the government from briefly shutting down a week before Christmas.
Congressional leaders had indicated that they were likely to need a continuing resolution to fund the government past Friday and until they are able to pass a broader deal, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warning that weekend work is “highly likely.”
“If we need to further extend the Friday funding deadline before final legislation can pass in both chambers, I hope we’ll extend it for a very, very short window of time,” McConnell said earlier Thursday.
But in order to pass even a stopgap bill by Friday night, Senate leadership needs cooperation from every senator.
Congress has already passed two continuing resolutions this year — one to fund the government between Oct. 1 and Dec. 11 and a second to extend that funding until Dec. 18. Last week’s stopgap bill passed the Senate by a voice vote.