20 GOP senators led by Rick Scott vow to block bills not related to funding government
By Alexander Bolton
Facing a pileup of spending bills and a possible government shutdown, 20 Republican senators led by Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.) say they will delay any legislation moving on the Senate floor that does not relate directly to funding the government.
Scott circulated a letter at the Senate Republican lunch Wednesday warning Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that GOP lawmakers will not tolerate further delay to the annual appropriations bills, none of which has yet passed the Senate.
“Nothing can stand in the way of this work. For this reason, we the undersigned senators pledge to withhold our support for any vote to proceed to items unrelated to appropriations bills,” the senators wrote.
The GOP senators are warning Schumer not to bring any non-appropriations bills to the Senate floor because they fear that letting the spending legislation pile up until December will inevitably lead to Congress passing another massive omnibus spending package.
“We urge you to present a plan to the Republican Conference for how you intend to pass the remaining appropriations bills and conference them with the House in a manner that respects an open amendment process and which does not end in a December omnibus spending package,” they wrote.
The senators, however, pledged to consider the spending bills “expeditiously” if Schumer commits to a plan for passing them in an orderly way and with an open amendment process.
The signatories include Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.), Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.), GOP Policy Committee Chairwoman Joni Ernst (Iowa) and GOP Conference Vice Chairwoman Shelley Moore-Capito (W.Va.).
Sens. Mike Braun (Ind.), Katie Britt (Ala.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Eric Schmitt (Mo.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.) also signed the letter.
Republicans on Wednesday expressed frustration over Schumer’s decision not to bring a spending bill to the floor this week before senators leave for the Columbus Day recess.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the vice chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said she was puzzled why Schumer instead scheduled votes on noncontroversial nominees this week.
Cornyn on Tuesday called for Schumer to cancel the recess so senators would have more time to debate the annual spending days.
“We had 45 days from Saturday to fund the government on an ongoing basis, and the majority leader has chosen to send the members of the Senate home for the next two weeks. It’s outrageous. It’s irresponsible. The American people deserve better,” he said.
Cornyn on Wednesday told Schumer to “quit wasting time” and get moving on the appropriations bills right away.
That sentiment was echoed by the senators who signed Scott’s letter to Schumer.
“There is no more important work for the Senate during this time than debating, amending and passing appropriations bills without resorting to a giant package dumped on the conference right before the December holiday,” they wrote.