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McConnell Makes First Move as Government Shutdown Deadline Nears

McConnell and Reid will need to work together if the Senate's going to advance a clean continuing resolution. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate's going first in the debate over how to fund the government past Sept. 30, just eight days from now.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell laid down a continuing resolution Tuesday that will continue government funding through Dec. 11, but the measure has no chance of advancing as is because it includes a rider that would direct funding away from Planned Parenthood for a year.  

The Kentucky Republican took the procedural steps to set up a first vote to break a Democrat-led filibuster on Thursday, likely following the joint meeting of Congress with Pope Francis. As written, the amendment will not be able to advance, but it gets the Senate one step closer to getting to an eventual clean spending bill.  

"Our committee has approved all 12 of the annual appropriations bills required to meet our national security and domestic priorities.  Most of these bills have bipartisan support," Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran said. "I encourage Senators to support this continuing resolution so that we can meet our responsibility to the American people to keep government operations open and address the challenges facing our nation."  

McConnell made the move to the Mississippi Republican's measure after Democrats again blocked taking up a defense appropriations bill written at a higher funding level.  

"The goal of Democrats' 'Filibuster Summer' was to force Congress back to the brink. They've succeeded in doing that. They think it’s the only way to force America to accept their demands for more debt and more bureaucracy," McConnell said. "But it’s time Democrats started considering the needs of our country, not the wants of the Far Left or the IRS. Ending their blockade of funding for our military at a time of significant international threats would show they’re ready to start putting Americans first."  

Democrats have called for equal increases above sequester levels for defense and non-defense discretionary spending. That will be the subject of negotiation as the fall progresses, as long as the clean spending measure moves forward.  

"We've made it clear that we're not going to proceed to appropriation bills under the Republican's partisan budget. We have 12 appropriation bills, not one. We have 12," Minority Leader Harry Reid said. "I'm gratified that our votes on this measure have caused the Republican Leader to acknowledge publicly that we need to negotiate and end this fiscal crisis that has been created by the Republicans."  

But McConnell and Reid will have to go through the process the hard way procedurally if they are to eventually team up to advance a clean measure.  

Asked by a reporter if he would "oppose consent on a clean CR" Republican presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz replied with one word, "Yes."  

Cruz has sought to tie the government funding to a blockade on funding for Planned Parenthood.  

"Donald Trump right now has framed the central issue of the primary as: 'Who will stand up to Washington.' I cannot think of a better question for this primary to be decided upon, because the natural second question is, 'Who actually has stood up to Washington? Who has stood up to Democrats and to leaders of their own party?'" Cruz said. "And in that regard, my record of standing up to the Washington cartel, fighting for the people, fighting for the Constitution, is markedly different from that of any other candidate on that debate stage."  

Alan K. Ota contributed to this report.

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