For the moment, the odds favor a government shutdown as long as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is consistent with the decisions he made over the weekend. The House, early Sunday morning, approved a bill that would fund the government past Monday while delaying ObamaCare by a year. It would also repeal a widely unpopular medical device tax.
But Reid has outright stated he will not accept any measures that undermine the health care law as part of the budget bill. Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said Sunday that Reid has vowed he will reject this bill.
“The Senate will do exactly what we said we would do and reject these measures,” he said. “At that point, Republicans will be faced with the same choice they have always faced: put the Senate’s clean funding bill on the floor and let it pass with bipartisan votes, or force a Republican government shutdown.”
House Republicans lowered their demand from a full defunding of President Obama’s health law to a one-year delay, citing costs and multiple problems with implementing the law. Yet, Harry Reid incredibly refused to call back the Senate into before today’s scheduled 2 p.m. ET session. Now, lawmakers just have until midnight to strike a deal.
All indications are that Reid will simply kill the Republican amendments and kick back a budget bill to the House chock full of medical device taxes – which have bipartisan support for repeal – and other deeply unpopular and inefficient provisions. The clock is ticking, but it will soon be Boehner’s ball, once again.
On Fox News Sunday, House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy said his caucus still has a few more plays left. “We have other options for the Senate to look at,” he told Chris Wallace. “You assume they [Senate Democrats] won’t vote for it. Let’s have that debate… we have other options for the Senate to look at,” he added.
At this point, the likelihood of a government shutdown is favored, and congressional leaders are hard at work trying to assign blame. Harry Reid said the House compromise puts the process “at square one” and vowed to strike down the bill.
Democrats have already labeled this a “Republican government shutdown.” But Republicans on Sunday hammered Reid and his colleagues for not coming back to work immediately after the House passed a bill Sunday morning.
“O Senate, where art thou,” said Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, riffing on the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou.” Blackburn made her comments along with other members of the House Republican Conference at an informal press conference on the steps of Capitol Hill.
“That the senators are not here … is all that everyone needs to know,” said Arkansas Republican Rep. Tim Griffin. “Democrats want to shutdown the government. … That’s a scorched earth policy.” Griffin and other Republicans tried to recast the blame for a possible shutdown on Democrats, who have argued Republicans’ strategy of tying a spending bill to ObamaCare is purposed to force a shutdown.
“Today we see where the Senate doors are shut,” said conference Chairwoman and Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. “Harry Reid says that a shutdown is inevitable.”
Politico reported that Harry Reid privately discouraged the president from holding planned talks with Republicans, with the majority leader saying he would not attend the meeting if Obama summoned lawmakers to the White House. Reid’s evident decision is to run down the clock, leaving Senate Democrats with the final say in the final hour. However, even if the Senate somehow approved the House bill, the White House has stated that President Obama would veto it.
Absolutely ridiculous for a chamber referred to as “the most deliberative body” in the world.