Senate Republicans released 12 bills to fund the federal government until next September, the first step toward negotiations with the Democratic-controlled House to avoid a shutdown Dec. 12.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) stressed that funding the government for fiscal year 2021 is a top priority in the lame duck session and that the bills have been drafted in a bipartisan manner.

“By and large, these bills are the product of bipartisan cooperation among members of the committee,” Shelby said. “Time after time, we have demonstrated our willingness to work together and get the job done. We have before us the opportunity to deliver for the American people once again.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), ranking member on Senate Appropriations, agreed on the importance of funding the government before the continuing resolution expires on Dec. 11 but said there are “significant issues” that will have to be resolved with the House to avert a shutdown, including funding to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This country is headed for a deadly winter and it is long past time for us to provide the resources the country needs to get this virus under control and our economy back open,” Leahy said. “These bills do not provide any such relief. It is imperative that we do what is necessary to stop this pandemic from spreading.”