Politics

Russia Sanctions Getting on Senate September Calendar is ‘Pretty Slim,’ McConnell Says

Farm bill and spending bundles highlight work before Supreme Court debate

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a busy September planned for the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell outlined an aggressive September calendar Tuesday, though he conceded it probably won’t include debate on a new round of Russia sanctions.

“September’s pretty crowded already. I’m personally very interested in a Russia sanctions bill,” the Kentucky Republican said Tuesday. “I hope there can be a bipartisan coming together with something we can pass.”

“The chances of sandwiching that in, honestly, in the month of September with all the other items we have swirling around is probably pretty slim,” McConnell told reporters following a Senate GOP conference lunch.

But McConnell suggested that not getting to sanctions before the end of September might not be the end of the road for such an effort.

“We’ll be here longer this year, and it would be high on the list for consideration for floor time,” McConnell said.

Several senators in both parties have drafted Russia-related legislation, including Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, as well as the duo of Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

In a somewhat related matter, the Rules and Administration Committee is scheduled to markup bipartisan election infrastructure security legislation on Wednesday.

By the end of this week, senators will have passed nine of the dozen annual spending bills for fiscal 2019.

As for what is on the agenda next month? Several conference reports as well as the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Senators from both parties were continuing to meet with Kavanaugh on Tuesday.

“We hope to have a series of minibus conference reports, a farm bill conference report, obviously we’re on a pathway to have Kavanaugh before the Senate the last week before the end of the fiscal year,” he said. “I think we can sandwich all of that it. Virtually all of those measures will be in a privileged status.”

McConnell also said that Sen. Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, was continuing to work on bundling together bipartisan bills to combat the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic.

McConnell said he was hopeful that Alexander could assemble a package that could move across the floor quickly, perhaps by voice vote.

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