Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday that his spending proposal designed to prevent a government shutdown at month's end will keep federal agencies funded through Nov. 15 -- a month less than a recently passed House version.
Reid said he decided to shorten the length of the "continuing resolution" because it would give the Senate greater incentive to pass appropriations bills to fund the government for the rest of fiscal 2014 instead of relying on another stopgap measure.
With fiscal 2013 ending Sept. 30, time is running out for Congress to pass a measure to keep government agencies funded into the new year.
The House last week passed a continuing resolution that funds the government through Dec. 15 but that also includes a provision to defund President Obama's Affordable Care Act. Reid intends to strip out the Obamacare funding measure and hold a vote on a "clean" spending bill before sending it back to the lower chamber.Reid also has vowed to remove House language that essentially would instruct the Treasury Department how to pay the country's bills if Congress later this year fails to raise the debt ceiling, a move that would cause the federal government to default on some debts.
He said he plans to make no other major changes to the bill.
A final vote on the spending bill is set for Sunday unless senators on both sides of the partisan aisle agreed to speed up the process, a move the Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have expressed interest in pursuing.
"If the House doesn't get what we send over there until Monday, they're in a pretty tough spot" to send another bill back to the Senate before the fiscal year expires, McConnell said Wednesday.
Reid added that if Republicans "want to collapse the time, fine."
But conservative Tea Party Republicans in the Senate like Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah have threatened to stand in the way of a speedy resolution. Cruz -- in a move opposed by McConnell -- seized the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon in a symbolic effort designed to block the continuing resolution and force a vote on defunding Obamacare.
Cruz or others could use similar tactics to delay a final vote on the spending bill until Sunday. But as Reid and his office pointed out several times Wednesday, Senate rules would prohibit any senator from blocking the measure beyond Sunday.
"There are a number of Senate Republicans who recognize the Tea Party agenda is wrong for the country and wrong for their party," Reid said. "I hope that these reasonable Republicans will prevail upon their colleagues in the next few days, so that we do not have to shut down the government."