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Congress again races to avoid shutdown as key vote at risk of failing

John Brighenti / CC BY 2.0

By Clare Foran, CNN

(CNN) - The Senate is slated to take a key vote Tuesday to take up government funding that is at risk of failing over a deal cut by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin that has come under sharp criticism from Republicans and liberals -- pushback that could be enough to sink the vote and push Congress to the brink of a shutdown.

Lawmakers are still expected to pass a short-term funding extension by week's end, but they will likely run right up against the deadline of Friday at midnight when funding expires.

The Senate is on track for a vote Tuesday evening on whether to start debate on a measure to extend funding, but an effort to attach a permitting reform proposal from Manchin has put the vote in jeopardy.

Senators released the legislative text of the stop-gap funding bill overnight.

In addition to money to keep government agencies afloat, it provides around $12 billion for Ukraine as it continues to face Russian military attack, and would require the Pentagon to report on how US dollars have been spent there. The aid to Ukraine is a bipartisan priority and lawmakers are also eager to finish work on government funding to return home ahead of high-stakes November midterm elections.

The continuing resolution also would extend an expiring FDA user fee program for five years.

The proposal would expedite the permitting and environmental review process for energy projects -- including a major pipeline that would cross through Manchin's home state of West Virginia. Senate Democratic leaders are pushing to pass it along with government funding as a result of a deal cut to secure Manchin's support for Democrats' controversial Inflation Reduction Act -- a key priority for the party -- which passed over the summer.

But Republicans are warning they will vote against the effort to tie permitting reform to the funding extension because they don't want to reward Manchin over his support for the Inflation Reduction Act.

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he will vote against the measure because of its inclusion of the Manchin plan.

"We have made significant progress toward a continuing resolution that is as clean as possible. But, if the Democrats insist on including permitting reform, I will oppose it," he said in a statement.

At the same time, some liberal members of the Senate Democratic caucus have expressed concern over environmental impacts. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is urging colleagues to oppose what he describes as a "big oil side deal."

If Tuesday's Senate vote fails to clear the necessary 60-vote threshold to succeed, Senate Democrats could then be forced to strip out the permitting proposal and advance a funding extension without it.

Manchin released legislative text last week for his permitting reform proposal that he wants to see included as part of the continuing resolution -- and now the West Virginia senator is working to try to get 60 votes to advance both permitting reform and the government funding extension together.

A Manchin aide told CNN that the senator has been "working the phones all weekend" and has secured several more Republican votes.

"He's still confident there is a path to 60. This moment won't come again, and he continues to remind his colleagues of that," the aide said.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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