Senate rejects House funding bill with shutdown in clear sight
By Alexander Bolton - 09/30/13 02:14 PM ET
Congress took another step toward a government shutdown Monday as the Senate voted 54-46 to strip language from a House funding bill that delayed ObamaCare by a year.
Senate Democrats called on House Republicans to pass a clean government funding resolution and warned the GOP would take the brunt of the public backlash if government services become severely curtailed.
Democrats also eliminated language allowing employers to opt out of providing insurance coverage of contraception if doing so violates their moral or religious principles.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) needed only a simple majority vote to cut the House language delaying ObamaCare and repealing the medical device tax because the amended stopgap came from across the Capitol as a message to the Senate. Monday's vote was strictly on party lines.
The afternoon vote leaves Congress where it was at the start of the weekend with Senate Democrats insisting on passage of a stopgap free of policy riders and House Republicans demanding action on the Affordable Care Act.
The government will shut down at midnight unless negotiators reach a compromise.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other members of his conference floated several proposals Monday to avoid a government shutdown, including a one-week stopgap spending measure.
Sen. Mike Lee (Utah), a Tea-Party Republican who has led the effort to link defunding ObamaCare to the stopgap, was recently undecided about how he would react to a one-week stopgap.
“I’d have to think that through under the totality of the circumstances if we had something like that,” he said Friday.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) mocked the GOP idea.
“What about five minutes? Maybe they want to send us a three-and-half-minute CR? Grow up and just step up to the plate,” said Boxer.
Boxer argued that Democrats made a significant concession when they agreed to the funding levels passed by the House.Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) showed no sign earlier in the day of backing down on the ObamaCare language
“It's time for the Senate to listen to the American people just like the House has listened to the American people and to pass a one-year delay of ObamaCare and a permanent repeal of the medical device tax.”
She has floated legislation that would block members of Congress from receiving pay during the shutdown.
“Nobody gets paid in a shutdown except members of Congress so I’m pushing my bill to make sure we don’t get paid and we’re treated just like our staffs,” she said.
The Senate Republican cloakroom on Monday blasted GOP lawmakers about the possibility of making continuing appropriations for members of the military.
Senate leaders would need unanimous consent from the chamber to approve a one-week stopgap before the midnight deadline, when government funds expire.
House Republican conservatives may balk at the plan because it would allow the implementation of ObamaCare to begin Oct. 1, when the new law’s open-enrollment period begins.
“There are a number of options Senate Republicans are talking about,” said a GOP aide. “A one week [continuing resolution]. Locking in military pay. If Democrats insist on a shutdown, let’s pay the military.”
Senate Republicans have also proposed accepting House-passed legislation that would ensure members of the military continue to receive pay if the government shuts down.
“Despite the Democrats’ refusal to work with the House to solve the problem, Republicans are working to protect the troops, prevent a shutdown and find solutions to the difficulties caused by Senate Democrats’ delays,” said Michael Brumas, a spokesman for McConnell.