WASHINGTON, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Democratic and Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate said on Wednesday they could possibly vote later in the day on legislation that would keep the government funded and prevent a partial shutdown.
“No drama, no delay, no government shutdown. That’s our goal and we hope to have an agreement very soon,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said on the Senate floor.
Leaders from both parties have said they support a stopgap spending bill that passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives by a wide bipartisan margin on Tuesday.
Current funding is due to expire at midnight on Friday (0500 GMT on Saturday), and both chambers of Congress need to pass spending legislation and send it to Democratic President Joe Biden to sign into law before then to avoid disruption.
Senator John Thune, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, said a vote on the House bill later in the day was possible. “Right now we’re not seeing anything out there that would suggest that we couldn’t process this fairly quickly,” he said.
But the chamber’s arcane rules can make quick action difficult.
A source familiar with the situation said Senate Democrats were negotiating a deal that would clear the way for a Wednesday vote on the spending bill, as well as an alternative by Republican Senator Rand Paul that would cut spending from current levels.
The House bill would extend government funding at current levels through mid-January, giving lawmakers more time to work on the detailed spending bills that fund everything from the military to scientific research.
More significantly, it would avoid a partial shutdown that would disrupt a wide array of government services and furlough hundreds of thousands of federal workers.
Tuesday’s vote was a victory for House Speaker Mike Johnson, who faced down opposition from some of his fellow Republicans who had pushed for deep spending cuts.
Johnson was a little-known Louisiana lawmaker until he was elected speaker on Oct. 25 following weeks of Republican infighting.
The legislation would extend funding for military construction, veterans benefits, transportation, housing, urban development, agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and energy and water programs through Jan. 19. Funding for all other federal operations – including defense – would expire on Feb. 2.
Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Scott Malone, Lisa Shumaker and Jonathan Oatis
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