WASHINGTON ― Senate Democrats won’t go along with any legislation that funds the government into next year, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday.
Congress returns from a break next week and lawmakers will have roughly one month to fund the government before they leave for another recess ahead of the November election.
“We’re not doing anything into next year and every Republican should be aware of that right now,” Reid said on a call with reporters, dispelling speculation that Democrats would agree to a longer funding measure. “We are not going to do anything past the first of the year.”
Democrats are confident their party’s presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, will win in November, and hope their party will gain a majority in the Senate. A senior Democratic aide said Democrats don’t want to leave a problem for the next president, and would like to negotiate an omnibus spending bill during the lame-duck session that follows lawmakers’ return from their election break.
Another senior Democratic Senate aide said leaders are “optimistic that the lame duck will be fruitful ground for a good omnibus deal.” President Barack Obama told Reid during an earlier conversation that he would not sign a six-month continuing resolution to fund the government.
Republicans are on a different track. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told Republican members that GOP leaders will likely push for a continuing resolution to authorize government spending past the election, but have little appetite for a large, year-end omnibus bill.
In addition to a continuing resolution, lawmakers will vote on funding for the government’s response to Zika virus. The Senate is still at an impasse on a package that includes measures unrelated to Zika, which Democrats considered poison pills. Included in the $1.1 billion Zika response bill are provisions that would block funding for contraception services, protect the Confederate flag and weaken the Clean Water Act.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said on the call with Reid Thursday that approving money to combat Zika, which causes microcephaly and other birth defects, is of utmost importance for Congress.
“Right now, there is nothing more critical than tackling what is an epidemic,” Stabenow said.