Senate leaders are trying to skate around conservative opposition to move forward on a package of funding bills.
After Senate conservatives derailed bipartisan plans to pass a bundle of spending bills last week, Democratic leaders are going around them.
What happened: Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray moved to suspend the Senate rules on Monday, a bid to get around Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) objection to bundling bills that fund the departments of Agriculture and Transportation with legislation that would set spending for military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Johnson argued that each bill should be passed individually, temporarily blocking the package, known as a “minibus,” that requires unanimous consent to move forward.
What’s next: Murray’s move tees up two votes this week: A procedural vote on Wednesday at a 60-vote threshold, which allows the chamber to move on to a vote to suspend the rules. That would require two-thirds of the Senate’s support, or 67 votes assuming full Senate attendance.
“This is an effort to move forward on the minibus and keep the appropriations process on track here in the Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor.
“It’s unfortunate that one member, who does not represent the views of most senators, prevented us from moving forward last week,” he said. “But I believe a majority of senators want to keep moving forward.”
Murray said they’re “continuing to work through a list of amendments and a package of amendments that we can approve as soon as we can get the necessary votes to get back on the bill.”
GOP gut check: Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Monday that he expects to know more about where Republicans stand on suspending the rules by Tuesday.
“I think we’ll have a better sense of that tomorrow from our members,” he said. “I think at this point how we proceed is still an open question.”
Key context: If passed, the Senate’s nearly $280 billion spending package would lay down a marker in the broader government funding standoff with House Republicans. But it would do nothing to avoid a shutdown that would kick in on Oct. 1.
Burgess Everett contributed to this report.