Durbin Wants Defense Spending Bill on the Floor, but Isn't Optimistic

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin would not concede that the only way forward for fiscal 2015 appropriations is a continuing resolution, but he wasn't very optimistic.  

Asked if the regular process of handling bills one at a time was dead, the Illinois Democrat said "I hope not, but it really looks tough."  

Durbin's comments come a day ahead of a scheduled full committee markup of the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill. In addition to his leadership role, Durbin serves as chairman of the Defense subcommittee, which considered the measure on Tuesday.  

"I'd like to bring it to the floor, I really would. I know it’s a long shot because we had a bad experience with three earlier bills, but I would really like to do that. I think it's a good bill," Durbin said. "I think we would get a lot of bipartisan votes."  

"It's like I said at lunch today, I got in trouble. I said 'I don't believe any sentence that is uttered on Capitol Hill that includes two words, lame duck.' Everybody says 'we will do that in the lame duck, we will take care of that in the lame duck.' So I would say the same about appropriations bills," he said. "I'd be careful after what we went through [with the government shutdown] saying anything is going to be an engine for a train."  

The top Republican on that subcommittee is Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who has returned to the chamber after emerging victorious in a contentious primary runoff with state Sen. Chris McDaniel. In a brief interview with CQ Roll Call, Cochran, who is a former chairman of the full committee, also didn't quite say there would be only be a CR come September.  

"I wouldn't predict that that's inevitable. It's a possibility," Cochran said. "It's not good politics and it's not government."  

Cochran praised his working relationship with Durbin and other defense appropriators.  

"The committee ... functions on a bipartisan basis, and we have been working together, all of the members of the committee, whether they're Republicans or Democrats," Cochran said. "I think we're making every effort to be sure that the security of the citizens of the United States is well served by our actions."  

"We have a budget process that limits our spending, and we'll stay within the limits and spend wisely," he added.