McConnell Files Cloture on Potential CR-Zika Funding Package

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture Monday on an appropriations bill that would serve as a vehicle for a stopgap funding measure to keep the government open and provide money to fight the Zika virus and aid veterans’ programs.

Negotiations are still ongoing on a potential package — which would hitch a ride on the Legislative Branch appropriations bill — with several provisions undecided.

“I expect to move forward this week on a continuing resolution through Dec. 9 at last year’s levels, include funding for Zika control and for our veterans,” the Kentucky Republican said, citing “a lot of important progress already” in “working toward an agreement to responsibly fund the government” past the Sept. 30 deadline.

McConnell noted that he and other congressional leaders will meet at the White House on Monday afternoon to “discuss the progress and the path forward.”

Funding for Zika has been stalled over the course of the summer due to partisan wrangling over provisions included in the GOP-negotiated conference report. Democrats objected to what they called “partisan riders,” one of which would bar funding from Planned Parenthood affiliates, among others.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) signaled that his conference was willing to continue negotiations, but also warned Republicans that “just so everyone understands, we’re not going to play any games with Planned Parenthood.”

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said last week that “if the stars align,” the chamber hopes to clear the funding measure before the end of the week so that they can return to campaigning, which could put House Speaker Paul Ryan in a sticky situation with the ultra-conservative wing in his party.

The Wisconsin Republican has been trying to sell skeptical lawmakers — who wanted to push the CR into next year — on moving appropriations bills in a piecemeal manner during the lame-duck session after the November elections, rather than a catchall omnibus spending bill that they loathe.

Correction

A previous version of this story misidentified the bill McConnell filed cloture on.

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