(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Updated 4:25 p.m. | The Senate will have one more fiscal standoff before leaving for the August recess in what will be an early test of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s ability to hold the line on spending this fall.
It’s been a rough road for the Transportation-HUD spending bill that’s the vehicle for that debate.
Missouri Republican Roy Blunt criticized the decision by Majority Leader Harry Reid to move the THUD bill first, rather than starting with a bill like the Military Construction-VA measure, on which Democrats and Republicans could more easily agree.
“I believe if I’d have been the majority leader, I would have picked one of the bills that Republicans are more in line with Democrats on because … the House and Senate number[s] are fairly close together. This is not one of them,” Blunt said. “That’s a decision that the majority leader makes and he may have been looking for a fight, and if he was, he may have gotten one.”
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the chairwoman of both the Budget Committee and the Subcommittee on Transportation-HUD, has run point for Democrats. “I know there are those in the Republican leadership that are working very hard now to not allow this bill to be finished,” Murray said Wednesday. “We are hoping that our Republican colleagues will join us tomorrow to make sure that we are making the right investments, that we are not managing by crisis, but doing the job that we were sent here to do.”
McConnell announced Wednesday morning on the Senate floor that he was encouraging opposition to the bill, which should come as no surprise since the Kentucky Republican has voted against the measure in committee, where he has maintained his seat.