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Senate Republicans propose $1.4T bill to keep gov't running for 10 months

Congress needs to settle on a funding bill soon to keep the federal government running into next year. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI
Congress needs to settle on a funding bill soon to keep the federal government running into next year. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Republican senators have unveiled a $1.4 trillion spending package to keep the government running through September 2021, but Democrats have criticized the effort for lacking coronavirus relief funding.

The package from Republicans released Tuesday seeks to reignite negotiations with their Democratic colleagues to come to an agreement before government coffers run out of funds on Dec. 11.

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The package consists of a dozen spending bills, allocating billions to each of the 12 appropriations subcommittees, including $69.8 billion for Homeland Security, $696 billion for Defense, $96.3 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services and $23.3 billion for Agriculture, among others.

"By and large, these bills are the product of bipartisan cooperation among members of the committee," Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said in a statement announcing the package, adding he is looking forward to negotiating on differences with his Democratic colleagues.

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"Time and time again, we have demonstrated our willingness to work together and get the job done," he said. "We have before us the opportunity to deliver for the American people once again."

Democrats said they agree with Shelby on the importance of getting a deal done before the December expiration date but they disagree with a number of measures, as well as the lack of funding to combat the pandemic.

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"This country is headed for a deadly winter and it is long past time for us to provide the resources the country needs to get this virus under control and our economy back open," Senate appropriations subcommittee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said in a statement. "These bills do not provide any such relief."

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Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., rejected the Republicans' funding proposal as partisan and insufficient as it lacks investments in the nation's health departments, schools and workers amid the pandemic.

"This bill is written as though the virus surging through our communities simply doesn't exist," he said in a statement. "For months, Republicans haven't taken the health and economic consequences of this pandemic seriously, and this one-sided, inadequate legislation is the latest example."

The Democrats also rejected the nearly $2 billion allocated to construct 82 miles of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a project that has been a staple of the Donald Trump presidency, with Leahy describing the initiative as "wasteful."

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Leahy also said the $184.4 billion earmarked in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill was "woefully inadequate" to meet the country's needs even without the pandemic while opposing cuts to the U.S. Agency for International Development, a lack of funding for conservation and environmental protection programs and too much funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention.

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"I look forward to working with Senate Republicans and our House counterparts to draft responsible bills that address the needs of our nation," Leahy said.

The bill follows Trump signing a stopgap funding measure in late September on the eve funding was to lapse in order to keep the government open until next month.

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