Senate debates wrapped up Thursday night after legislators tried to get a $740 billion defense spending bill passed, along with a COVID-19 relief stopgap spending measure, or face a government shutdown.
The spending package must be passed before Saturday, or the U.S. will be pushed into a shutdown. Meanwhile, senators are squabbling over various measures in the bill.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. called Rep. Liz Cheney, R-S.D., a warmongering “neocon” from the Senate floor Thursday. Paul, no stranger to the filibuster, held up the defense spending bill due to a measure in the legislation that restricts the president from being able to remove forces from Afghanistan, a provision for which he blames Cheney.
“The philosophy of these people is about war and substantiating war and making sure that it becomes and is perpetual war," he said.
Paul reportedly said in an interview with Politico on Thursday, that he would drop his objection if the GOP-led Senate would allow an additional vote on the National Defense Authorization Act on Monday – a move that legislators are eager to prevent in order to avoid a shutdown for any length of time.
Paul is not the only senator seeking to make concessions.
The current stopgap measure will grant Congress a one-week continuing resolution to reach an agreement on a coronavirus spending package.
Sanders was joined by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., in calling on their fellow senators to vote on stimulus checks in a standalone item, as congress seeks to kick the coronavirus relief package-can down the road one more week.
The bipartisan duo asked the Senate to vote to approve stimulus checks for struggling Americans as new rounds of shutdowns hit various states throughout the U.S. -- mirroring the checks distributed earlier this year with $1,200 for adults and an additional $500 per child.
But in a turn of events, Sanders and Hawley are asking that they vote on the measure by Friday instead of lumping them in with the relief package, which has consecutively failed to get through Congress for months.
"If the Senate can't agree on a larger [COVID-19] relief bill, I'm not going to allow working families to be held hostage," Hawley reportedly said from the Senate floor. "It's already happened once this year ... we have to make sure it happens again.”
“It’s really just a function at this point of letting the clock run and seeing if we can get cooperation. Some of it’s our side, some of it’s their side,” Thune told Politico. “If people come together we could probably wrap a couple of things up this week and then work on the big stuff — the spending bill and [COVID-19] package — next week.”