- Republican Sen. Mike Rounds on Thursday said he planned to vote against the latest short-term funding extension introduced by the GOP leadership.
- Rounds said the use of short-term funding bills since September had damaged the military and was no longer tenable.
- He is now the second GOP senator to come out against the funding bill in the past 24 hours.
- If no funding bill is passed by the end of Friday, the federal government will enter a partial shutdown.
Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota on Thursday said he planned to vote against the short-term government funding bill put forward by Republicans, increasing the risk of a government shutdown over the weekend.
Congress has until the end of Friday to pass a funding bill and prevent a partial shutdown of the federal government that would include a furlough of hundreds of thousands of federal workers.
Republicans are now seeking to pass a bill, introduced in the House on Tuesday, to maintain existing funding levels until February 16. The legislation is known as a continuing resolution.
Rounds, a Republican, told CNN’s “New Day” that the government needed to stop running on CRs, which leave many federal agencies in limbo in terms of funding. The government has been operating under a series of short-term funding bills since September, when the new fiscal year began (this would be the fourth such bill passed this fiscal year).
In an interview with Sen. Angus King, an independent who typically caucuses with Democrats, Rounds agreed after King said there should be no deal that would “kick it down the road for another month.”
“I agree with Angus,” Rounds said. “And that’s the reason why I’m opposing the CR in its current form as well. And it’s not because immigration isn’t included. For me, it’s a matter of defense.”
Rounds is the second Republican in two days to come out against the latest GOP funding plan, after Sen. Lindsey Graham. Both of them raised concerns over the uncertain funding flows for the military that comes as part of a continuing resolution.
Every Republican senator and at least 10 Democratic members would need to vote for the legislation to avoid a filibuster. With Rounds and Graham’s defections, the path to avoid a shutdown becomes even more perilous.
Rounds also expressed fatigue with Republican leadership’s strategy of short-term fixes.
“I voted for the first one when leadership asked in October,” Rounds said. “They said, look, we need time to work out the deal. But we see no changes, no deal being done.”
Both King and Rounds said that if the leadership from both parties presented a deal for long-term funding that included fixes for other legislative items like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program but needed a few days, an even shorter extension would be fine.
“If they came to us and said, ‘OK, we’ve got a deal, here are the terms, we need five days in order to do the paperwork,’ I think both of us would go along with that,” King said, and Rounds agreed.
As it stands, the two parties are still not close to a deal on the DACA program and immigration in general. President Donald Trump last week foiled a bipartisan push in the Senate that would have included a codification of DACA and increased border security.
Rounds expressed frustration with Trump’s seemingly fluid position on immigration.
“I think it depends on when you spoke to him last and who was advising him last,” Rounds said when asked whether anyone knew what the president wanted in a deal.
The House is expected to vote on the bill as soon as Thursday, with the Senate voting shortly afterward.