Senate Passes Government Funding Stopgap, Punts on Lands Issue

Measure now goes to House for consideration, Friday deadline looming

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned senators that, even with passage of a government funding stopgap, it isn't over until it's over. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After a back-and forth that ran well into the night, senators came together eventually to pass a stopgap spending bill that will run through February 8 and avert a partial government shutdown, sending it over the House for consideration.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed to caution senators against assuming they were done for the the holidays, maybe out of an abundance of caution before the House votes to send the package to President Donald Trump.  A continuing resolution funding several nine Cabinet departments, including Homeland Security and the Justice Department, expires at midnight Friday. 

Left unresolved as the Senate voted was the fate of a package of lands bills championed by Western senators that had seemed to hold up progress on the funding bill.

What took place during the delay was a largely private debate during which senators representing Western states tried to secure a floor vote for a 680-page public lands bill that would have reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

In the end, Senate leadership opted not to add the provision to the continuing resolution, despite frustration from members of both political parties that there was no final agreement on the lands bill.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, later said she had received a commitment from Senate leaders to have the package of lands bills as one of the first items on the floor in the new Congress, which convenes on January 3.

Murkowski lamented the objections to passing the bill on Wednesday, but she said they will be able to review the bundle and vote, “thumbs up or thumbs down in early January.”

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