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Congress again races to avoid shutdown as key vote at risk of failing | CNN Politics


The Senate is slated to take a key vote Tuesday to take up government funding that is at risk of failing over a deal cut by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin that has come under sharp criticism from Republicans and liberals – pushback that could be enough to sink the vote and push Congress to the brink of a shutdown.

Lawmakers are still expected to pass a short-term funding extension by week’s end, averting a shutdown, but they will likely run right up against the deadline of Friday at midnight when funding expires.

The timing of the fight continues a pattern by Capitol Hill leaders in recent years of negotiating until the last minute to fund the federal government, leaving virtually no room for error in a series of events where any one senator could slow the process down beyond the deadline.

Neither party wants to be blamed for a shutdown – especially so close to the high-stakes November midterm elections where control of Congress is at stake and as Democrats and Republicans are both trying to make their case to voters that they should be in the majority. Many lawmakers are also eager to finish up work on Capitol Hill so they can return to their home states to campaign.

The Senate is on track for a vote Tuesday evening on whether to start debate on a measure to extend funding, but an effort to attach a permitting reform proposal from Manchin has put the vote in jeopardy.

Senators released the legislative text of the stop-gap funding bill overnight – a measure that would fund the government through December 16.

In addition to money to keep government agencies afloat, it provides around $12 billion for Ukraine as it continues to face Russian military attack, and would require the Pentagon to report on how US dollars have been spent there. The aid to Ukraine is a bipartisan priority.

The continuing resolution also would extend an expiring FDA user fee program for five years.

The permitting proposal would expedite the permitting and environmental review process for energy projects – including a major pipeline that would cross through Manchin’s home state of West Virginia. Senate Democratic leaders are pushing to pass it along with government funding as a result of a deal cut to secure Manchin’s support for Democrats’ controversial Inflation Reduction Act – a key priority for the party – which passed over the summer.

But Republicans are warning they will vote against the effort to tie permitting reform to the funding extension because they don’t want to reward Manchin over his support for the Inflation Reduction Act.

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he will vote against the measure because of its inclusion of the Manchin plan.

“We have made significant progress toward a continuing resolution that is as clean as possible. But, if the Democrats insist on including permitting reform, I will oppose it,” he said in a statement.

On Tuesday morning, Manchin continued to call for his colleagues to support his energy permitting text in an interview with CNN, but acknowledged he may not have the votes for it to pass with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging his colleagues against the measure.

“I’m not going to second guess what Mitch would do and what his motives are,” he told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on “New Day.” “I think there’ll be a time when he looks back, if he really evaluates this well, that we never had this opportunity to take a major step forward, that we’re all in sync with – permitting reforms need to be done for the United States to meet the energy challenges.”

At the same time, some liberal members of the Senate Democratic caucus have expressed concern over environmental impacts. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is urging colleagues to oppose what he describes as a “big oil side deal.”

If Tuesday’s Senate vote fails to clear the necessary 60-vote threshold to succeed, Senate Democrats could then be forced to strip out the permitting proposal and advance a funding extension without it.

Manchin released legislative text last week for his permitting reform proposal that he wants to see included as part of the continuing resolution – and now the West Virginia senator is working to try to get 60 votes to advance both permitting reform and the government funding extension together.

A Manchin aide told CNN that the senator has been “working the phones all weekend” and has secured several more Republican votes.

“He’s still confident there is a path to 60. This moment won’t come again, and he continues to remind his colleagues of that,” the aide said.

In another sign, however, of the headwinds facing the plan, Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine released a statement explaining that he would vote against proceeding to the bill for government funding as a result of the permitting measure.

“I strongly oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline provision of this legislation, which would greenlight this pipeline without normal administrative and judicial review and ignore the voices of Virginians,” Kaine said in a statement.

“I will vote against the motion to proceed to this deal and urge my colleagues to do the same. We should pass a continuing resolution that is free of the unprecedented and dangerous MVP deal,” he said.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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