Senate GOP moves to avert government shutdown

By Philip Brasher

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2015 - Senate Republicans moved toward averting a government shutdown after Democrats blocked an attempt to use a stopgap spending bill to defund Planned Parenthood. 

As soon as that measure failed Thursday afternoon, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., filed a new version that doesn't include the Planned Parenthood language. A vote on the measure was set for Monday afternoon. McConnell is seeking to keep the government funded until December to allow time for negotiations with the White House on raising spending levels for fiscal 2016. 

The new fiscal year starts Oct. 1, but Democrats blocked all appropriations bills because they adhered to caps set by a 2011 budget agreement. 

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It remained unclear whether the new continuous resolution that McConnell filed could pass the House. But the House won't have much of an alternative, given that the current fiscal year ends Wednesday. Republicans in that chamber are due to discuss the issue at a meeting Friday morning. A CR that doesn't defund Planned Parenthood might need a majority of Democratic votes to pass. 

House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., expressed optimism that a shutdown could be averted. “I think we will, I think we will,” he said. 

“Leadership is discussing how to tackle it, and we have a CR that's ready to go. So, when we get the call from the leadership we'll be ready to move.”

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., wasn't sure when the issue would be resolved. “I do not know the way out, but I'm sure we'll get there.”

The White House issued a veto threat shortly before the Senate vote on its CR that would defund Planned Parenthood. 

Earlier in the week, Senate Democrats raised the stakes of a government shutdown by disclosing that the Agriculture Department was preparing to block the issuance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in 37 states on Oct. 1, if funding is allowed to lapse.

During the 2013 shutdown there was no disruption in SNAP benefits because USDA had plenty of money on hand, but that isn't the case this year. Republicans say USDA has enough money to keep benefits flowing for at least two weeks. The 37 affected states transfer the benefits at the beginning of the month. 

(Updated 6:30 p.m.) 

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