Senate Republicans are criticizing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for not giving floor time to the must-pass appropriations bills in the next two weeks as the next deadline to avoid a government shutdown approaches.
The Senate is only in session Tuesday and Wednesday this week after Thursday’s votes were canceled so members could travel to California for the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s funeral. The votes scheduled for those two session days have been related to advancing some of President Joe Biden’s nominations.
The abbreviated workweek comes after an extended one. Senators were forced to stay in Washington through late Saturday evening as Congress worked to avert a government shutdown temporarily. The House and Senate passed a 45-day continuing resolution, leaving both chambers until Nov. 17 to pass their 12 respective appropriations bills and deliver them to the conference committee, where legislation is sent to sort out differences.
Schumer’s Senate schedule is causing concern among several leading Republicans, all of whom told the Washington Examiner they want prompt floor action on the appropriations bills.
“The best I can tell is probably for the next two weeks, the Senate won’t be making any progress. So unfortunately, we may find ourselves back where we found ourselves this weekend in 45 days,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said. “Sen. Schumer seems disinterested in making any progress.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said she was “surprised we did not go back to the minibus of the three appropriations bills today and instead are taking up a non-urgent nomination. I don’t understand that, but you’d have to ask Sen. Schumer why he made that decision.
“I’m going to continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but I do hope that Sen. Schumer will pivot to the appropriations bills and have us work Monday through Friday, all day long to get them through,” she added.
Senate GOP Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) said in a statement, “We passed legislation last week as a bridge to get all 12 appropriations bills through Congress. Chuck Schumer is doing what he does best, wasting time by not putting any of those bills on the floor this week. Any delay slows down our critical work to hold the Biden administration accountable. Let’s get to work.”
Democrats on the Appropriations Committee also expressed a desire for Schumer to schedule floor votes on the bills, which individually fund different sectors of the federal government.
Asked if he expected Schumer to bring some of the bills up for a vote soon, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), who serves on the Appropriations Committee, replied, “I hope.”
“Yes, I’d like to see them on the floor,” he continued. “The Senate Appropriations Committee passed every bill out of committee with big bipartisan margins, some of them unanimously, so I would like to see us take them and pass them on the floor.”
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), another Appropriations Committee member, suggested that the Senate was “gonna stay and vote” on the appropriations bills, though he did not specify when this would happen.
Schumer did not respond when asked by the Washington Examiner in the Capitol on Tuesday about that criticism. A spokesman for the majority leader did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.