Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday government shutdowns “have always been a loser for Republicans politically” and that they’ve “never produced a policy change” amid ongoing division in Congress about government funding.
“I’m not a fan of government shutdowns,” McConnell told reporters following the GOP conference’s weekly luncheon.
McConnell said the upper chamber is waiting to see what the House is going to do on a continuing resolution (CR), which would keep the previous year’s funding for federal programs temporarily.
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However, the anticipated procedural vote for the temporary spending bill, which was crafted through negotiations between the House Freedom Caucus and Main Street Caucus, was removed from the schedule on Tuesday. The government will enter partial shutdown if no deal is reached by 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 30.
“We’ll see what the House does and act accordingly,” McConnell said. “I support what the speaker is trying to accomplish because he’s trying to avoid a government shutdown, and he’s trying to help with an appropriations process so that we have something close to a normal process.”
The House Freedom Caucus and Main Street Caucus’s proposed legislation proposed averting a government shutdown through Oct. 31 by an 8% reduction in non-defense discretionary spending, along wit key components of the House GOP’s border security bill, The Secure the Border Act, passed earlier this year.
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But House Republicans are divided on the issue and whether a CR should even be passed, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy can only lose a handful of Republicans to pass anything without Democratic votes.
Meanwhile, the Senate — which Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has used as a shining example of bipartisanship in contrast to the House — is also experiencing pushback from Republican leaders on passing its appropriation bills.
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Last week, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., rejected a move to advance military construction and Veterans Affairs spending bills because they were combined with funding for the departments of Agriculture, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. He and other conservatives argued they should be split up and voted on individually.
Sen. Jon Cornyn, R-Texas, attempted shifted the blame to Schumer, and said on the floor last week: “He knows we can’t pass all these bills in the next 16 days.”
“It’s a gold standard for political theater, this is drama scripted by the majority leader so he won’t get blamed for a shutdown,” he said, calling it “a Schumer shutdown.”
If both chambers can’t pass all 12 appropriation bills by Jan. 1, a 1% spending cut will be enacted on all non-defense discretionary spending.
Fox News’ Elizabeth Elkind contributed to this report.