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Cruz internet, other policy fights hold up government-funding deal

Cruz internet, other policy fights hold up government-funding deal
© Greg Nash

The Senate has delayed an initial vote on a government-funding bill, in part because of demands from Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Ted Cruz says critical race theory is as racist as 'Klansmen in white sheets' Pentagon pulling 'certain forces and capabilities,' including air defenses, from Middle East MORE (R-Texas) to add language preventing the Obama administration from relinquishing a U.S. role in overseeing the internet.

The vote was scheduled for Monday evening, but senators agreed by unanimous consent to delay the vote until Tuesday at 2:15 p.m.

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It’s the second time the Senate has delayed the vote, which was originally scheduled for last week.

Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonNASA's sudden interest in Venus is all about climate change Demings raises million after announcing Senate bid against Rubio Russia threatens to leave International Space Station program over US sanctions MORE (D-Fla.) told reporters Monday that while an agreement hadn't been locked down, Republicans had agreed to language that would fund efforts to fight the Zika virus without preventing money from being used by clinics in Puerto Rico operated by Planned Parenthood.

Nelson said under the tentative deal, the $1.1 billion for Zika would be partially offset in exchange for allowing Planned Parenthood clinics to have access to a block grant. 

“They've eliminated the political riders,” Nelson said. “The hold up now is Ted Cruz and this ICANN thing.”

ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. The administration at the end of this month wants to cease its oversight of web site addresses and give that role to ICANN. Cruz argues this would hand over U.S. control of the internet to an international body.

Still, Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntCongress barrels toward debt cliff Excellence Act will expand mental health and substance use treatment access to millions Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 MORE (R-Mo.) said talk that the Zika fight had been decided was "premature."

"We're trying to work this out," he said. "It's just, none of it's going to be done until it's all done."

Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBiden fails to break GOP 'fever' Nevada governor signs law making state first presidential primary Infighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms MORE (D-Nev.) and Sen. John CornynJohn CornynBlack lawmakers warn against complacency after Juneteenth victory The Senate is where dreams go to die Federal government to observe Juneteenth holiday on Friday MORE (Texas), the Senate's No. 2 Republican, stressed that a myriad of policy fights still needed to be worked out and that nothing is finalized. 

The delay comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPortman: Republicans are 'absolutely' committed to bipartisan infrastructure bill Graham calls voting rights bill 'biggest power grab' in history The wild card that might save Democrats in the midterms MORE (R-Ky.) accused Democrats of holding up the measure.

“Senate Republicans stand ready to move forward with this important agreement now,” McConnell said from the Senate floor. “I would encourage our colleagues across the aisle to work with us to complete the negotiations so we can advance this important measure."

Senators have been negotiating for weeks over how to fund the government and avoid a shutdown ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline.

While one Senate Democratic aide said the chances of getting an official announcement on Monday was “50/50 at best,” a Senate Republican aide was even more pessimistic about its chances.

“There’s still some fleeting hope, but there’s just no time. We’ve been told to plan on being here next week,” the aide said.

The Senate's spending bill is expected to fund the government through Dec. 9, potentially allowing members to leave Washington this week until after the general elections.

- This story was updated at 5:43 p.m.