A group of Senate Republicans vowed to block non-spending-related bills in a letter sent to Sen. Majority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Wednesday, as the upper chamber breaks for a Columbus Day recess until next week.
The upper chamber has until November 17 until the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires, and Congress will need to come together again to agree on a government spending package for the next fiscal year.
The senators fear that if the spending legislation gets put on the back burner behind other bills, Democrats in the upper chamber will try to jam through another omnibus spending package.
‘Today, despite being past the September 30th deadline, with the Senate Appropriations Committee having already passed each of the 12 bills for our chamber, we have the best opportunity in decades to complete our work,’ Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said in the letter.
Senate Whip John Thune, R-S.D., Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, GOP Conference Vice Chairwoman Shelley Moore-Capito of West Virginia, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., also signed the letter, among others.
‘We urge you to present a plan to the Republican Conference for how you intend to pass the remaining appropriations bills and conference them with the House in a manner that respects an open amendment process and which does not end in a December omnibus spending package,’ the letter read.
‘For this reason, we the undersigned senators pledge to withhold our support for any vote to proceed to items unrelated to appropriations bills.’
The fiscal year ends at midnight on October 1. Had the Senate rejected the bill to extend funding past midnight, nonessential government programs would have paused, and thousands of federal employees would have been furloughed. The funding includes $16 billion in disaster relief but does not include additional aid to Ukraine.
‘If we don’t get the appropriations process going here, we’re just not going to get any of these bills done before the end of the year, and we’re gonna end up in a terrible position at the end of the year,’ Thune said during Tuesday’s press conference following the GOP conference’s weekly luncheon. ‘So, I hope Senator Schumer will make this the number-one priority, he’s got other things he wants to do, we shouldn’t be doing anything else right now but dealing with appropriations bills.’