BY JORDAIN CARNEY – 03/29/17, The Hill
A pair of Senate Republicans are signaling they will not support a short-term funding bill ahead of next month’s deadline to avoid a government shutdown.
GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John McCain (Ariz.) — two of the Senate’s most vocal defense hawks — said separately that they would oppose a continuing resolution (CR) over concerns about its impacts on the Pentagon.
“It would decimate the ability to defend the nation and it would put the lives of our men and women in uniform at risk,” McCain, who chairs the Armed Services Committee, told The Hill.
Graham separately told reporters that he wouldn’t back a CR, even if it funded the government through the end of the end of September, over similar concerns.
“I’m not going to vote for a CR because that destroys the Pentagon,” Graham said.
He added that he would vote for a one-week stopgap bill, used to give lawmakers more time to lock down a long-term deal, as long as it was “clean.”
Lawmakers are under a tight deadline to pass legislation funding the government.
The Senate is expected to focus next week on Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination before heading out of town for two weeks. When they return they’ll have a matter of days to pass a bill through both the House and Senate.
The Pentagon has warned lawmakers against passing a continuing resolution even it ran through September, when the current fiscal yearends, because it would limit their ability to launch new programs, including new military equipment, and could hamstring their ability to move around war funding.
McCain and Graham have also called for an increase in base defense funding, something that is likely to be rejected by Democrats without an equal increase in non-defense spending. Republicans need the support of at least eight Democrats to pass a funding bill through the Senate.
GOP leadership is downplaying the chances of needing to pass a stopgap bill ahead of next month’s deadline.