Senate negotiators trying to avert a government shutdown reportedly are close to a deal that would fund the fight against the Zika virus without defunding Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico, the issue that has prevented a Zika funding bill from being approved for months.
The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and without a spending plan in place, federal agencies would be forced to shut down. The Senate is considering a measure that would fund the government through Dec. 9 but put off a vote on the deal Monday evening, opting to reschedule it for 2:15 p.m. Tuesday.
“It looks like we may be here a little longer than we thought,” Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters. Republicans had been hoping to approve a continuing resolution by the end of the week so they can get back to campaigning.
Funding to fight the Zika virus, which causes severe birth defects and other problems, has been holding up the agreement with Republicans demanding to use the issue to defund Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico.
The Hill reported Republicans now are willing to trade the defunding requirement for a rider that includes offsets for some of the $1.1 billion bill. They also want a provision that would keep the Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring public companies to report their political activities and to keep the Department of Transportation from implementing truck-safety regulations.
Also still unresolved is whether funds will be provided for Flint, Michigan, to deal with its lead-tainted water supply and for Louisiana flooding.
“Close is relative,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said when asked about a deal.
“Republicans took the longest summer recess in 60 years and are rushing for the exits again after three short weeks back at work. This Republican Senate has worked fewer days than any Senate in modern history.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he delayed Monday’s vote to give negotiators time to get to the fine print, Politico reported.
“Senate Republicans stand ready to move forward,” McConnell said. “I would encourage our colleagues across the aisle to complete negotiations so we can advance this important matter.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who spearheaded the last government shutdown in 2013, is demanding language that would keep the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — ICANN — from assuming oversight for web site addresses, the Hill said. Currently the Commerce Department is responsible.
Any bill to avert a government shutdown would have to go to the House for approval. Congress is next scheduled to return Nov. 14, six days after the general election, for one week before the Thanksgiving break.