Senate panel cancels vote on key spending bill amid standoff

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday canceled votes on two spending bills that had been scheduled for the following day, marking the latest sign of turmoil as lawmakers try to fund the government beyond Sept. 30.
 
The panel had been scheduled to vote Thursday on spending bills covering the departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor and Education, as well as the State Department and foreign operations.
 
HHS-Labor-Education, in particular, is viewed as a key priority for Democrats, but had emerged as a headache this week because of fights on controversial issues including abortion and President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE's border wall.
 
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Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyMcConnell support for election security funds leaves Dems declaring victory Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg courts critics on Capitol Hill | Amazon makes climate pledge | Senate panel approves 0M for state election security House votes to avert shutdown, fund government through November MORE (R-Ala.) told a small group of reporters on Tuesday that he was likely to cancel the panel vote on the legislation unless he could work out a deal with Democrats on how to proceed.
 
"We're not sure that HHS will be one" that we'll vote on Thursday, Shelby said. "They might come around on HHS, they might not. We'll have to see."
 
The committee is still expected to vote Thursday on a defense spending bill and a spending measure covering energy and water development.
 
Canceling the full committee vote on HHS-Labor-Education comes after a subcommittee vote on the same bill, scheduled for Tuesday, was also canceled.
 
Republicans argued that Democrats were trying to violate the spirit of a two-year budget deal by offering "poison pill" amendments.
 
 

Democrats argue that senators should go on record with their positions on the issue.

“If Senate Republicans are more willing to listen to President Trump than women and patients in their own states, they should own up to it and be willing to let their votes show it,” said Murray, the top Democrat on the Appropriations labor subcommittee.
 
Democrats are also accusing Republicans of shifting $5 billion from the bill to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spending bill as part of funding for the border.
 
"They added $5 billion. They took it out of HHS and put it into DHS," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters during a weekly press conference. 
 
He added from the Senate floor on Wednesday that McConnell knows "very well this will not fly with Senate Democrats. We're not going to vote for a budget that is partisan, attempted to be jammed down our throat."