Top US Senate Democrat encouraged by House Republican funding bill

By Moira Warburton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Top U.S. Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer on Monday expressed tentative support for House Republicans’ short-term funding bill that would keep the federal government open past this weekend.

Schumer halted progress on the Senate’s proposed funding plan, a step that would allow the House to move first. This may encourage some House Democrats to back the plan if hardline Republicans deny Speaker Mike Johnson the votes for the bill he has proposed.

Any bill keeping the government open past the current Nov. 17 funding cliff “will have to avoid pushing steep cuts and poison pills” that hardline Republicans have demanded, Schumer cautioned in a floor speech. He added that he was “pleased that Speaker Johnson seems to be moving in another direction.”

Johnson has proposed a short-term funding bill, known as a continuing resolution or CR, that would keep spending at fiscal year 2023 levels until January and February for different parts of the government.

“The Speaker’s proposal is far from perfect, but the most important thing is that it refrains from making steep cuts while avoiding a costly government shutdown,” Schumer said.

Hardline Republicans have rejected this plan because it does not include steep budget cuts, but Schumer’s tentative support suggests Johnson could afford to lose their votes and pass his CR with Democratic support.

“Bipartisanship is the only way to avoid a government shutdown,” Schumer added.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Washington)