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Top GOP negotiator warns lawmakers to ‘stop playing with fire’ before shutdown deadline

Top GOP negotiator warns lawmakers to ‘stop playing with fire’ before shutdown deadline

Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, warned lawmakers to “stop playing with fire” hours ahead of a looming deadline to prevent a partial government shutdown.

“I want to offer my colleagues a warning. If we do not act at midnight, tonight, we will have a partial government shutdown,” Collins said. “It will affect the Department of Agriculture. It will impair the work of the Food and Drug Administration. It will prevent military construction projects going forward.”

Her comments come as congressional leaders have been working quickly to pass a key funding package that was approved by the House earlier this week.

The Senate advanced the package over a procedural hurdle Friday in a 63-35 vote.

The 1,050-page package calls for more than $450 billion in funding for the departments of Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Interior, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Commerce and Energy.

Senators have been optimistic about the bill passing the upper chamber Friday, but concerns are rising on both sides of the aisle as leaders work out an agreement on amendment votes.

“It’s gotten a little complicated, unfortunately,” Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Republican in the upper chamber, told reporters while discussing the path forward on Friday afternoon.

Thune was among the 34 Republicans who voted Friday against advancing the measure to a final vote.

“I mean, we’ll have hopefully in the next couple of hours, I think an understanding of how this is going to, how we’re going to finish this. But right now they’re blocking amendment votes.”

Amendments some Republicans have been pressing for include measures targeting funding earmarks and others in thorny areas like the border.

“If they were willing to lock something in that would guarantee these votes happen on the next [appropriations bill] there might be a path forward that way too,” Thune said.

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