The Senate has failed a second attempt to pass a motion to proceed with a vote for a minibus bill that includes fiscal year 2020 defense appropriations, as the current continuing resolution’s deadline looms just three weeks away.

The motion failed to pass Oct. 31 by a vote of 51-41, with a 60-vote requirement threshold. The bill, H.R. 2740, included fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills for defense, state and foreign operations, labor, health and human services, education, and energy and water development. Senate Democrats had previously blocked a Sept. 18 attempt to pass the $693 billion defense spending bill by a vote of 51-44.

Multiple lawmakers and sources on Capitol Hill have said the sticking point on reaching budget agreements – both for the FY ’20 National Defense Authorization Act and for the Senate to pass the defense spending bill – remains President Trump’s request to divert military funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a member of the defense subcommittee, urged his Democratic colleagues to vote against the motion to proceed, noting in a Thursday statement that the Trump administration has already diverted $2.6 billion from the FY ’19 defense spending bill for border wall funds, as well as $3.6 billion from military construction projects.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, also voted against the motion to proceed.

“President Trump continues to divert funds from our men and women in uniform and their families in order to build his almighty wall.  Rather than oppose that outrage, Senate Republicans refuse to step out-of-line with the President,” Durbin said in a Thursday statement. “The Democratic position remains unchanged: the President cannot divert money from our military in order to fulfill a campaign promise, and I hope that my Republican colleagues will one day agree with that idea.”

Durbin noted that despite fears that a budget battle will extend into the new year, U.S. military personnel will receive a 3.1 percent pay raise come Jan. 1. “This fight is really about making sure our troops don’t get short-changed by having the White House divert billions more from the military budget,” he said. “Republicans want a defense bill that would allow the President to siphon money off from pay, equipment, and even aid to Ukraine – we will not stand for that.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republican lawmakers criticized the Democrats for being too consumed with impeachment inquiries to make real progress on defense spending.

“Washington Democrats have talked up a storm in recent days, criticizing the Trump administration’s approach to Syria and the Middle East,” McConnell said in a Senate floor speech Thursday. “But apparently, they are not concerned enough about the Middle East and fighting ISIS to actually vote for the funding that keeps those missions going.”

Two sources on Capitol Hill told Defense Daily that meetings between congressional leaders and the White House appear to be making headway on the outstanding spending bills as just three weeks remain before the current CR ends. But Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, has previously brought up the prospect to reporters of passing a stopgap spending measure to continue to fund the government past the Nov. 21 deadline and into the spring.

The Senate did pass on Thursday H.R. 3055, a separate minibus bill that included FY ’20 appropriations for the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, as well as the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations. It includes $22.75 billion for NASA, about $435 million above what the House approved in its appropriations bill passed in May, and $1.25 billion above the agency’s FY ’19 spending levels. The minibus bill passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 84-9.

It includes nearly $2.6 billion for NASA’s Space Launch System – a $400 million increase over 2019 funds. Boeing [BA], Aerojet Rocketdyne [AJRD] and Northrop Grumman [NOC] are all contracted for components of the SLS system, while Lockheed Martin [LMT] is the prime contractor for Orion, NASA’s human deep space exploration spacecraft. The FY ’20 science spending bill includes $1.4 billion for Orion development — slightly above the program’s FY ’19 funds.