The Senate struck a deal on three bipartisan government funding bills Tuesday, allowing lawmakers to move forward on legislation the chamber has been working to advance on the floor since last month.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced a long-awaited deal on amendments, teeing up more than three dozen amendments for consideration in the coming days and final passage of the trio of bills, better known as a “minibus.”
The package would provide funding for military construction and the departments of Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development.
“Our allies are watching. Our adversaries are watching,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said on the floor, pointing to the “chaos and dysfunction” in the House.
“We need to show them that we are still able to work together and solve problems and respond effectively to the pressing challenges of this moment,” she continued. “This is an important opportunity to do just that.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters late last week that lawmakers were closing in on a deal on the minibus after Schumer worked out a deal with Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) to allow a vote on an amendment that would allow military veterans whose finances go into conservatorship to keep their firearms.
Schumer had previously labeled the amendment a “poison pill,” leading to intense talks on the floor with Collins early last week.
Collins added that she and Murray were working out one other item before a deal could be clinched. One Senate GOP aide said it related to Democrats wanting to change the threshold level of one of the GOP amendments included from a simple majority to 60 votes.
Schumer said earlier in the day that he was hopeful that lawmakers could start voting on the bill by Wednesday morning. Votes on the minibus are expected to last through next week.
The Senate initially started voting on the minibus Sept. 12.
The move comes just over three weeks before government funding is set to expire Nov. 17 and as lawmakers look to avoid a massive omnibus package before Christmas.