Senate advances shutdown-averting bill as GOP discusses changes

Senate advances shutdown-averting bill as GOP discusses changes

The Senate voted Thursday to advance its bipartisan stopgap spending bill, though GOP senators are actively discussing changes to make the measure more palatable for House Republicans.

The upper chamber voted 76-22 to proceed on the stopgap. Before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said another key procedural vote could be held Saturday, “if not sooner.” But without consent from all 100 senators, the timing would all but guarantee that a shutdown kicks in Sunday before the Senate can vote on final passage of the bill, which would extend government funding through Nov. 17.

Key context: The Senate’s addition of $6 billion in Ukraine aid has made an already unpopular stopgap essentially off the table in the House, where a handful of Republicans say they’re outright opposed to passing any continuing resolution to keep the government open.

Senators are now considering a possible amendment that would deliver as much as $6 billion in border funding to appease House Republicans, according to a GOP aide granted anonymity to discuss planning.

Asked if that amendment would include possible policy changes, requiring 60 votes for passage in the upper chamber, Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said, “We’ll see. There are still a couple issues that are up in the air about how we might actually get this attached to the bill.”

Some Republican senators have also pushed to strip out Ukraine aid, with Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s right flank vehemently opposed to providing more money to the allied country. That funding is a major priority for Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, however.

Across the Capitol: At this point, it’s unclear if McCarthy would even put a Senate-passed bill on the floor.

House GOP leaders are pushing to pass several of their own spending bills on Thursday, none of which would avoid a shutdown. They’re tentatively planning to take up a temporary funding fix on Friday, which would cut spending for the duration of the Republican stopgap and enact certain border policy changes desired by conservatives.

It’s unclear whether McCarthy has the votes to even pass those bills, however. GOP leaders in the lower chamber were forced to abandon votes on their Agriculture-FDA bill for the second time on Thursday amid GOP infighting.

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