As final preparations seemed to be underway to pass the "cromnibus" funding most of the government for the rest of the fiscal year — and avoid a shutdown — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made one more warning about the session extending past Thursday.
"The federal government's going to run out of money in two days. There's no reason the government should shut down, and we're ready to pass a yearlong spending bill to take care of this," the Nevada Democrat said. "There's still factions within the Republican party who want extreme measures. You've all heard them, just like I have."
"For the extremists within the Republican Party ... there's always a reason to take a poke at the president. If it's not one thing, it's some other thing. The American people certainly shouldn't be facing another government shutdown, but I guess that's what we're facing," Reid said, noting that almost 100 riders had been at play in the process of crafting the catch-all spending bill.
Asked what message he has for any Senate Republican that may seek to slow down the Senate clearing legislation, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who is chairman of the Senate Republican Conference said, "I just think in the end this is going to move ... You want to get as much of the things that you have to get done now behind you so that we could start fresh next year."
He would not rule out the possibility that the Senate may need to pass a short-term spending bill to provide enough time to clear the larger bill. "I hope that doesn't happen," Thune said.
"Any one member can slow things down if they want to … but in the end I don’t see it getting derailed," Thune added.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican appropriator, echoed Thune's sentiment about clearing the decks to allow for a more regular process in fiscal 2016.
"This way of doing business leads to a lot of chicanery. No one really knows what's buried in this bill because you don't have a whole lot of time to look at it. There's some legitimate objections to what's been put in the bill, how the bill has been processed," Graham said. "We have to balance that against the outcome of not passing a bill, which is shutting the government down."
Reid indicated that a one-year retroactive extension of tax breaks would likely be in line after the spending bill and the fiscal 2015 defense policy bill, which has also already arrived from the House. Reid said he planned to move to limit debate on the defense measure Tuesday, setting up a likely Thursday vote. He said he had not had discussions with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., about his objections to including a package of unrelated lands bills. If all debate time is used, a final vote on that item could be pushed until Friday.
"Maybe we'll have to work the weekend and maybe even work next week. I know that's tough duty for everybody, but we may have to do that," Reid said. "We have a number of nominations we're going to do ... we have nine judges left. We're going to do those."
He also rattled off a number of executive branch nominees he planned to call up, including the much-contested choice of Vivek Murthy to be surgeon general, as the Huffington Post had reported Monday. Reid's list also included the immigration head and the Social Security Administration administrator.
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