In an 85-12 vote on Tuesday, the Senate took the first step toward advancing a three-bill “minibus” funding package, which combines the upper chamber’s Agriculture-FDA, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD measures.
Leaders aim to pass that package in a major display of unity, standing in stark contrast to the spending morass facing the House GOP conference.
“Do I believe that these bills are what either of us would have written on our own? Of course not,” Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said before the vote. “But that is compromise, and that is how you make sure that government can be functional and effective.”
No shutdown savior: With federal cash set to dry up on Sept. 30, the Senate’s minibus would do nothing to stave off a government shutdown that could potentially hobble federal agencies in October. But Senate leaders still want to move that package through the upper chamber with the goal of gaining leverage in the broader spending standoff with the House.
Both the House and Senate will ultimately have to consider a continuing resolution that wards off a shutdown on Oct. 1 and buys more time for bicameral, bipartisan talks on a government funding deal for the coming fiscal year. Billions of dollars in disaster relief are also at stake in negotiations over that stopgap, in addition to billions of dollars in critical aid for Ukraine.
“Both parties in both chambers are going to have to work together in a bipartisan way to avoid a shutdown,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before the vote. “That is obvious.”
What’s next: Final passage of the three-bill minibus could come as soon as next week. But first, Senate leaders must reach an agreement to ensure a speedy process, likely necessitating votes on a number of messaging amendments that aren’t likely to succeed.