Senate leaders are navigating demands from GOP senators that could slow down passage of a sweeping bill that would fund the government and provide $13.6 billion in Ukraine-related aid.
Members of GOP leadership say they are still hopeful that the Senate could pass the $1.5 trillion government funding deal, which also includes the Ukraine assistance, later Thursday. But first they need to cut deals with GOP senators who are warning that they could slow down the massive legislation, which was introduced early Wednesday morning.
Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneCongress cuts deal on .6 billion for Ukraine aid in funding bill Lawmakers reach .5T deal on government funding package Overnight Health Care — Congress to provide COVID-19 funding MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said he was feeling “good” about the prospects of passing the legislation on Thursday night.
“All it takes is one. One person can slow it down if they want to do and delay it. … I’m still hopeful that when people who get their votes on amendments that if people don’t like the product they can vote no,” Thune said, adding that he was hoping there would be a deal on GOP amendment votes “soon.”
“I think as we get into the evening and it becomes clear … where things stand and what the outlook is for the next few days if we stay around that maybe folks will decide to let the vote happen,” Thune added.
Senators are facing an end-of-the-day Friday deadline to pass a bill to fund the government or risk a shutdown. The House passed a sweeping $1.5 trillion bill and a days-long continuing resolution on Wednesday night before leaving town.
But to get the bill across the finish line, leadership needs the signoff from all 100 senators.
Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyLouisiana Democrat running for US Senate smokes marijuana in campaign ad MORE (R-La.) fumed after a closed-door lunch about the process, noting that senators were having to vote on a massive bill with little time to read it.
“There are a lot of people in my conference who are very upset, you can include me in number, that once again we’re being asked to vote on legislation that we haven’t had a reasonable opportunity to read. There are a lot of people upset, I’m among that number, that we can’t seem to get amendments,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy added that if leadership tried to get an agreement that set up a quick vote on the funding bill that he would likely block the deal.
“Probably yeah. I don’t think I would be the only one,” Kennedy said asked if he would object.
Shortly after Kennedy spoke with reporters, his office announced that he was offering an amendment to provide $2.5 billion in disaster aid to Louisiana.
Republicans were expected to get votes on at least two amendments, one from Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeCongress faces shutdown crunch time amid Ukraine crisis Democrats make ‘global offer’ on government funding, Ukraine, COVID-19 aid This week: Congress races shutdown clock amid Ukraine crisis MORE (R-Utah) to defund Biden vaccine mandates for medical workers, military personnel, federal employees and federal contractors as well as an effort by Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunRepublicans warn Justice Department probe of Trump would trigger political war Senate conservatives threaten to hold up government funding over vaccine mandate Senate GOP shrugs off latest Trump revelation MORE (R-Ind.) to strip earmarks out of the bill. The Senate agreed to bring back earmarks in its government funding bills last year despite opposition from some GOP senators.
But the votes on Republican amendments appear likely to grow.
Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulWyoming legislature kills crossover voting ban despite Trump’s support Johnson, Cruz to meet with trucker convoy Tuesday in DC Senate sends bill to make lynching a federal hate crime to Biden MORE (R-Ky.), as part of the negotiations on how to speed up the funding deal, is getting a procedural vote Thursday tied to a resolution to block an arms sale to Egypt.
A group of conservative senators are also trying to separate the Ukraine aid from the larger funding deal.
In addition to Scott, Sens. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnThe damnable religious inklings of the Big Tech libertarian Trump holds GOP candidate forum at Mar-a-Lago Lawmakers condemn Putin, call for crippling sanctions on Russia amid military operation MORE (R-Tenn.), John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanUkraine crisis adds pressure to spending talks On The Money — Congress eyes sprint to avoid shutdown The Hill’s Morning Report – Ukraine, the West await Russian attack MORE (R-Ark.), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonDurbin blasts Cotton over GOP delays on judicial nominees Top Justice official pressed on past views after Biden’s call to fund police Cotton argues Trump, Reagan share common roots in GOP MORE (R-Ark.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesRubio: Implementing no-fly zone over Ukraine ‘means starting World War III’ Two GOP senators share photos from Zoom call with Zelensky despite requests not to Senate conservatives threaten to hold up government funding over vaccine mandate MORE (R-Mont.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstCapito eyes Senate GOP leadership bid Violence Against Women Act renewed as part of omnibus spending package Gibbons, Mandel lead Ohio GOP Senate primary field: poll MORE (R-Iowa), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySusan Collins praises Biden’s Supreme Court pick after meeting Key GOP senator warns against ‘arbitrary timeline’ for court nominee Black Chambers endorses Jackson for Supreme Court MORE (R-Iowa), Cynthia LummisCynthia Marie LummisTech Trojan Horse: How the Senate is poised to codify censorship of social media Senate conservatives threaten to hold up government funding over vaccine mandate Three senators endorse Timken in Ohio GOP Senate primary MORE (R-Wyo.) and Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallSenate conservatives threaten to hold up government funding over vaccine mandate Overnight Health Care — Presented by Alexion — Battle lines drawn over COVID-19 funding Senate GOP passes resolution to nix COVID-19 emergency MORE (R-Kan.) co-sponsored the stand-alone Ukraine aid bill.
But Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterOvernight Defense & National Security — White House seeks billion for Ukraine House passes bill to expand health benefits for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits Congress races to clinch government funding deal MORE (D-Mont.) blocked the request, arguing that separating the Ukraine aid into its own bill would ultimately slow it down. The House has left town for the week and would need to pass the legislation before it could go to Biden’s desk. Any changes to the government funding deal would also require it to be passed again by the House.
“If we split this Ukrainian funding out, it is not going to get there quicker. It’s going to get there slower. The bottom line is, if you want to help the Ukrainian people out — and I believe the speakers want to help the Ukrainian people out — then pass the omnibus bill that’s in front of us,” he said.
Scott told The Hill that he is also asking for a related amendment vote to the massive funding deal. If leadership gives him a vote on the Ukraine aid, he said that he would agree to let the entire bill get speed up.
“Absolutely,” he said.