WASHINGTON – A group of Republican senators Wednesday signaled their support for a temporary spending bill to avoid a government shutdown Thursday at midnight when the 2022 federal fiscal year begins. But their support was conditioned on removing language that would have suspended the federal debt ceiling.
“Democrats don’t want to shut down the government. Republicans don’t want to shut down the government. That will supply the result that we all expect, which is to keep the lights on,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said at a news conference with seven other GOP senators.
The legislation, known as a continuing resolution, would temporarily continue government funding at current levels with some adjustments because Congress has not passed the annual appropriations bills that fund federal programs and agencies. It also would provide $28.6 billion in funding for disaster relief and $6.3 billion for resettlement and support of Afghan refugees.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said he was hopeful the Senate would vote late Wednesday to pass a version of the spending bill that passed the House last week, but with the debt ceiling language removed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Senate Republicans want Democrats to take responsibility for increasing or suspending the debt ceiling. The federal government will run out of borrowing authority in a few weeks without such action.
Negotiations on the exact terms of the spending bill could last until Thursday, leaving enough time for House to pass the new version and send it to the president before the midnight deadline on Thursday.
“The only question is how long the continuing resolution will be for and whether it will include things like funding for Iron Dome,” Cornyn said.
The current framework allows the government to continue operating until Dec. 3. Cornyn did not elaborate on what date he would prefer. Senate Republicans also want a stricter vetting process for the Afghan resettlement program.
Appropriations to fund the government through the end of fiscal 2022 are part of the $3.5 trillion spending bill currently awaiting passage in the Senate.