“There is no point in shutting down the government,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut and chair of the appropriations committee, on Wednesday. “We will come to an end point.”
Because the interim bill maintains existing funding, effectively freezing spending levels negotiated with the Trump administration and a Republican-controlled Senate in 2020, Democrats are pushing to make it as brief as possible. But Republicans pushed to extend the measure longer.
“I wish February, March was fine for me – April, May,” said Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the credits committee. “I think that gives us more time to seriously sit down.”
Lawmakers were also debating additional spending provisions, including additional funding for Afghan refugees and a provision to avoid billions of dollars in cuts to Medicare, grants and other programs. But even if a deal were reached, the Senate would need unanimous support to forgo a number of procedural steps and swiftly pass the legislation before Friday’s deadline.
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Without unanimous agreement, the process could drag on over the weekend, forcing a brief halt. Senate Republicans, with strong backing from House Republicans, have threatened to prolong debate unless the bill prohibits funding a mandate that all major employers require their employees to be vaccinated against coronavirus or get tested weekly.
“I’ve been saying for a long time that I’m not particularly invested in the timing of any given vote – whether it’s a few hours earlier or a few hours later,” Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas told reporters. “But I think we should use the leverage we have to fight against what are illegal, unconstitutional and abusive mandates.”
Mr Marshall had already proposed in September an amendment to a previous interim bill that would have prevented funds from going to the implementation and execution of the mandate, but he failed in the equally divided Senate.