Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., questions a witness during a committee hearing June 9 on Capitol Hill. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
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Few Senate leaders, Republican or Democrat, believe the chamber can pass its own version of a 2015 defense appropriations bill. To do so, the parties would have to set aside a years-old fight over process and amendments. CongressWatch chatted with GOP Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, Appropriations Committee ranking member, about whether he thinks a 2015 defense spending bill will eventually pass ó and how lawmakers will keep the government open.
Issue: Defense Spending Bill
Q. Do you think the committeeís defense appropriations bill will get to the Senate floor?
A. If [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] wants it to come to the floor after recess and after the elections, itíll come to the floor. He has that prerogative.
Q. If you had to bet on the bill getting to the floor, how would you bet?
A. If I had to guess, Iíd say no. But I donít know that yet.
Issue: Continuing Resolution
Q. Is a continuing resolution (CR) likely to be needed before the November midterm elections, to keep the government open?
A. Iíd think a CR ... until the middle of November when we come back.
Q. Just based on the politics of the Senate, and the election-year calendar, isnít a CR almost a done deal at this point?
A. You never know. Things can change quickly around here.
Issue: Omnibus Bill
Q. Could a pre-conferenced Pentagon spending bill be part of an 2015 government-wide omnibus later this year? That approach has been used in recent years.
A. Iíd rather we had been dealing with it the last three weeks. ... But the House has been tracking a lot of the stuff weíve been doing.
Q. It sounds like you think some version of a full-year 2015 defense appropriations bill will eventually be passed by both the House and Senate.
A. You canít rule out anything around here. But you better not rule it in right now in July.