US Senate Democrats could link same-sex marriage to government funding bills – source

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WASHINGTON, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate could add language protecting same-sex marriage rights to an interim measure to keep the federal government funded and functioning, in a bill that will require support from Republicans to pass, a Democratic source said on Tuesday.

Such a move could increase pressure in the equally divided chamber as it faces a Sept. 30 deadline to avoid partial shutdowns of federal agencies when money runs out. Republicans warned on Tuesday that they view the pairing as a political stunt.

Congress has less than four weeks to pass the measure before resuming campaigning for the Nov. 8 midterm elections, when President Joe Biden’s Democrats are expected to lose their narrow majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Control of the Senate is also up for grabs.

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Republican cooperation will be needed in the Senate to pass the interim funding bill that could last until December, which is necessary because the two parties have yet to agree on a dozen regular funding bills. Democrats control the Senate 50-50 thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ decisive vote.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the chamber, has pledged to enact the funding package and avoid a politically damaging government shutdown.

“Democrats will work in good faith to avoid even a hint of shutdown. And I expect our fellow Republicans to do the same,” Schumer said in a speech on Tuesday.

He previously pledged to organize a vote on a bill passed by the House codifying the right to same-sex marriage. The idea arose after conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in June that the same logic that prompted the court to strike down the nation’s abortion law could also lead it to reconsider its earlier ruling legalizing marriage. homosexual.

It is not clear that a bill codifying same-sex marriage would have the 10 Republican votes needed to pass. In recent days, senior Democratic officials have considered adding it to the must-have funding measure in hopes of gaining its approval, the Democratic source said.

Some Republicans have pushed back on the idea of ​​tying same-sex marriage legislation to the government funding measure.

“It’s frankly a political stunt. Same-sex marriage … is not in political danger,” said Republican Senator John Cornyn, who predicted that combining the two bills could stifle support from fellow members of the left.

Republicans also reacted skeptically to suggestions that Democrats could add other spending measures to the government funding bill, saying it was unclear why more money was needed now.

On Friday, Biden requested $47.1 billion in new spending, including $11.7 billion in emergency funds to help Ukraine in its fight against Russian forces, $22.4 billion in COVID aid -19 and 4.5 billion dollars to help deal with an epidemic of monkeypox.

“It’s a big ask without much explanation,” Republican Senator Roy Blunt told reporters. “There’s a lot of talk to be had about what they’re asking for.”

As many parts of the United States suffer from climate change-related flooding, western wildfires and other natural disasters, Biden has asked for $6.5 billion in aid.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin could step up his push for a bill to reform how permits are approved for energy infrastructure projects ranging from pipelines to export facilities. It’s a move that may worry some Democrats due to concerns about climate change.

Heading into the final two months of the campaign, congressional Democrats were feeling a bit more optimistic about avoiding massive losses to Republican challengers.

Gas prices have plummeted and there are signs of a public backlash against the conservative Supreme Court’s overturning of abortion rights, which had been a goal of the Republican Party for decades.

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Reporting by Richard Cowan and David Morgan in Washington Editing by Scott Malone, Josie Kao and Matthew Lewis

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Harry D. Gonzalez