Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Tuesday that leadership in the upper chamber had reached an agreement to weigh “minibus” spending legislation.
Congress has only a few weeks before a 45-day stopgap spending bill expires in mid-November, putting the nation back at risk of a government shutdown if a federal budget for fiscal 2024 is not passed.
To that end, he Senate Republicans have been pressuring their GOP counterparts in the House to move quickly to elect a new Speaker; Congress is essentially paralyzed until the lower chamber has a permanent lawmaker in its leadership position.
On Tuesday House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) became the lower chamber’s third nominee for Speaker in as many weeks—and within hours, became the third to drop out of the race as it grew increasingly unlikely that Emmer could secure the necessary 217 votes he’ll need to be elected by the full House.
The Senate agreement Tuesday means that the upper chamber can begin floor consideration of a package that would combine the fiscal 2024 Military Construction-VA, Agriculture, and Transportation-HUD appropriations bills.
The Senate is using the Military Construction-VA bill that already passed in the House as the legislative vehicle for its spending package.
“It took a while to work through…negotiations on many poison pill amendments that, in my judgment, shouldn’t have been offered to begin with,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “But here we are, we’re moving forward.”
He said voting on about 40 amendments—six of which would need a 60-vote Senate majority to be adopted—could begin as soon as Wednesday.