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Sept. 8 — Senate Republican leaders' plans to quickly move a short-term government spending bill through the chamber this month could encounter some opposition from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), whom members of both parties blame for the 2013 government shutdown.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants the Senate to consider a new continuing resolution to fund the government as soon as the week of Sept. 12—and make it available for a House vote by the week of Sept. 19—to avoid another shutdown. The CR is necessary because none of the 12 regular appropriations bills have been finalized and sent to the White House for signature.
But Cruz warned on the floor that he may try to use the measure to stop White House efforts to turn over control of the body that manages internet names and addresses at the end of September. Cruz didn't say he currently plans to block a government funding bill, but said he and other conservatives are fighting to insert language to keep the Obama administration from carrying out the transfer (see related story in this issue).
“Our enemies are not hiding what they intend to do,” Cruz said in extended remarks on the Senate floor. “Not only is there a concern of censorship in foreign jurisdictions stripping U.S. law from authority over the internet, there are also real national security concerns.”
Cruz worked with his House counterparts three years ago in an effort to use a similar stopgap to defund the Affordable Care Act.
Cruz spoke one day after McConnell announced he is negotiating with the White House and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on the details of a new CR that will fund the government into early December. McConnell said passage of the stopgap is lawmakers' top priority in September and said he may try to move to it soon after passage of a water resources bill (S. 2848).
McConnell said the CR will likely run to Dec. 9 in order to put off most decisions over federal spending until after the election. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is also said to be supportive of a new short-term CR this month, rather than the six-month or one-year CRs promoted by conservatives in his party.
McConnell said a large part of the negotiation also involves funding to combat the Zika virus and suggested that items the House previously inserted—such as riders withholding resources for Planned Parenthood and promoting display of the Confederate flag—may fall away. Other lawmakers said the bill (H.R. 2577) funding Zika could end up as the lead vehicle for the CR (See previous story, 09/06/16).
But controversies in addition to the internet-oversight transfer have emerged since the White House sent its own list of so-called anomalies for inclusion in the CR (See previous story, 08/29/16). Among them include a $1 billion loan request for Iraq to combat ISIS as well as language to authorize the Export-Import Bank to make large loans.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he's preparing to meet with his conference behind closed doors early Sept. 9 to discuss the details of the CR. Ryan said he's talked to McConnell about the measure but declined to comment whether he discussed its contents with the administration.
“[W]e want to talk as a family, as a team first before we proceed with any kind of plan to go forward in engaging with the White House,” Ryan said. “So again, I want to hear from our members first. I want to have a good conversation with them before we engage.”
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