The Senate voted 54-46 today to send a clean continuing resolution to the House of Representatives. The new CR no longer contains measures to delay Obamacare or repeal the medical device tax. Majority Leader Harry Reid acted as expected, and the move comes as no surprise. Now the onus returns to the House of Representatives, which must decide how to respond to the new form of the CR.
In a press conference immediately after the Senate vote, Democrat Sens. Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, and Patty Murray insisted that the likely government shutdown will be on the hands of Republicans. “It will be a Republican government shutdown, pure and simple,” Reid said.
On one side of the podium from which the senators spoke was a virtual display—a clock counting down the number of hours and seconds until a government shutdown. Reid insisted that the votes are there in the House to pass a clean CR, and that the Senate bill is nothing more than a short-term extension which needs to be passed. Reid declared that the Senate will respond to any attempts to change the bill, be they a delay in Obamacare mandates or the Vitter amendment, by cleaning up the CR and sending it back to the House. “House Republicans face the same issue they faced the day before, and the day before, and the day before,” he said.
Durbin said that he expects the House Republicans to try another variation of the CR. He lambasted House Republicans, saying that he’s heard rumors about how Republicans are dealing with internal strife within the lower chamber. “We aren’t dealing with two parties in the house, we’re dealing with three,” reported Durbin, and that two of these parties are Republican.
Schumer believes that this kind of shutdown would be unprecedented. He suggested that previous shutdowns have been about comparatively slight disagreements, such as on abortion. The senator said that an exact analogy of the current situation would be if then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi had refused to pass TARP unless the Bush tax cuts were repealed. Schumer decried Speaker Boehner’s demands for “a pound of flesh” to offer on a “sacrificial altar to the right-wing gods.” The right-wing gods presumably include Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley, and Ayn Rand, enshrined in a heavenly pantheon and speaking directly to Boehner in a booming voice. Schumer’s own gods, who presumably count Upton Sinclair and Hugo Chavez among their number, were most pleased.
Schumer and Reid compared their situation to that of a youngster facing a schoolyard bully. “If we give an inch on CR, they’ll take a mile on the debt ceiling,” Schumer said. “If you give in on these tactics, they’ll happen again and again.” Reid recalled the creation of Medicare and Social Security, which were unpopular at first. “Given a little bit of time, Obamacare is going to be just as popular with 90 percent of Americans.”