The Senate is ripening for a potential shutdown.
Thursday morning three more Senate Democrats announced they wouldn't support a short-term spending bill to keep the government open, raising the stakes that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may not have the votes to keep the government's lights on.
"The House Republican majority is moving forward with a continuing resolution that is very likely to be unacceptable to the Senate and may well be unacceptable to House Republicans," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said on the Senate floor, adding the proposal "prepared by the Speaker is not an honest attempt to govern."
House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Thursday morning that he had confidence he'd have the votes in the House to pass a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown despite frustration from the conservative House Freedom Caucus and defense Hawks.
But, McConnell is drawing up contingency plans to keep the Senate in session through the weekend if Senate Democrats block a short-term spending bill before the Friday deadline expires, according to two GOP aides. Senate Republican leaders were working through scenarios that could force Democrats up for re-election in 2018 to take politically challenging votes for days after the missed deadline.
The plans serve in part as a threat to Democrats who have grown increasingly willing to keep McConnell from the 60 votes he would need to pass a short-term funding bill and avoid a shutdown.
Unlike in the House, McConnell has to have Democratic votes to pass a spending bill and with some in his own conference like Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, already threatening to vote against a short-term spending bill, McConnell may need even more than nine Democrats to get the House's version of the bill across the finish line in the Senate.
Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Virginia Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner all released statements that they'd vote against a short-term funding bill Thursday morning.
"We oppose the House Continuing Resolution, which punts budget discussions until mid-February. Congress should remain in session with no recess until we work out a long-term bipartisan budget deal that addresses all issues," Kaine and Warner said in a joint statement. "We will support a short-term CR for a few days to keep the government open while we stay in town and conclude our negotiations. But we do not support perpetuating the current budgetary dysfunction that is hurting our country and our Commonwealth. "
The votes of Kaine and Warner were particularly significant given that both of them voted for the most recent previous continuing resolution, or CR, last month. Virginia, next to Washington, DC, has a outsized interest in keeping the government funded.
Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, said on CNN Thursday morning that he was tired of continuing resolutions.
"We have to close this escape hatch and stop voting for CRs and tell leadership they have to make their deals and then we will get it done," King said. "I'd vote for one for a few days to do the paperwork, but to kick it down the road for another month, we're not going to know anything then that we don't know now. "
Their announcements follow days of Democrats mostly keeping their votes to themselves. Many Democrats have bemoaned the use of continuing resolutions, but kept their options open in part because it was unclear if Ryan and his lieutenants would even have the votes in their Republican conference to pass a short-term spending bill out of the House.
Still, some red state Democrats aren't likely to go along with any plan to block McConnell from getting the votes he needs. Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, said earlier in the week that he would vote for a short-term continuing resolution.
"I want to keep the government open. I'm just going to work and work and work to keep the government open," Manchin said earlier this week.
This BBSNews article originally appeared on News | WPLG.