WASHINGTON (AFP) – US senators clashed Friday over a $1.1 trillion federal spending bill, forcing lawmakers to approve an extension of funds to avoid a government shutdown as Republicans delayed a final vote on the must-pass legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sought to move quickly on the spending measure. He and others were eager to wrap up deliberations and head home for the holidays with government funding intact.
And President Barack Obama said he was “hopeful” the Senate would pass the bill and send it to his desk for his signature.
Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed hope that a deal would be reached for a final vote Friday on the bill funding nearly all federal operations through next September, which passed the House of Representatives on Thursday.
But conservatives, furious that the spending bill failed to roll back Obama’s recent unilateral immigration action to shield millions from deportation, demanded an opportunity to amend the measure.
When Reid objected, Republicans signalled they would push a final vote to Monday or later.
“If anybody has the gumption to stand up and object to this abuse of process, they’re (accused of) shutting the government down? What planet are we on here?” an irate Republican Senator Jeff Sessions said.
With government funding set to expire midnight Saturday, Congress needs to pass another short-term patch.
The House on Friday narrowly passed an extension until next Wednesday, but amid the acrimony in the Senate no extension deal was finalised.
If there is no agreement by late Saturday to extend funding, the government could plunge into shutdown.
“We are at the mercy of Republican objections,” a Senate Democratic leadership aide said.