Senate Passes Budget Resolution With PPACA Funding Added Back In
The week long sturm und drang in the Senate over funding the Federal budget past September 30th reached its inevitable end shortly after 1pm today:
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Friday overwhelmingly approved stopgap spending legislation to keep the federal government open without gutting President Obama’s health care law, setting up a weekend showdown with the House that will decide whether much of the government shuts down at midnight Monday.
The 54-to-44 vote for final passage followed a more critical moment when the Senate, in a bipartisan rebuke to Republican hard-liners, cut off debate on the legislation. The 79-to-19 vote included the top Republican leadership and easily exceeded the 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster.
The Senate then voted along party lines, 54 to 44, to strip out House Republican language that tied further funding of the government to defunding the health care law. That vote required only a simple 51-vote majority.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader, called the votes “the first step toward wresting control from the extremists.” Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, had been urging his Senate colleagues all week to oppose ending debate as a way to force Democrats to accept language defunding the Affordable Care Act. But with the clock ticking toward an Oct. 1 government shutdown, an overwhelming bipartisan majority wanted to act quickly to move the spending bill back to the House.
Now Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio faces a defining choice: accept the Senate bill, which funds the government through Nov. 15 without Republican policy prescriptions, or listen to his conservatives, who will accept a government shutdown unless serious damage is done to the health care law.
House Republicans will meet at noon Saturday to hash out their options. Mr. Boehner has signaled that he will again attach language to chip away at the Affordable Care Act, but as the deadline approaches, fissures are appearing in the Republican ranks.
“The only time you shut down the government is when you shut it down and refuse to open it until you accomplish what you want. We’ll fold like hotcakes,” said Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma. “You do not take a hostage you are not going to for sure shoot, and we will not for sure shoot this hostage.”
The Senate legislation would almost certainly win approval in the House, largely with Democratic votes, but conservatives warned it could hurt the beleaguered speaker dearly.
“I think it would be devastating to the speaker’s support,” said Representative Richard Hudson, Republican of North Carolina, who is one of the members urging the Republican leadership to drive a hard bargain with the Senate.
“I think the question is do we go with the carrot or the stick strategy,” Mr. Hudson added. “Do we try to do something bad enough to force Harry Reid to negotiate with us, or do we do something that we think he can’t refuse?”
The fate of all of this in the House, and what would happen if the House passes something different that what the Senate passed thus requiring Senate approval, remains up in the air. At this point, the probability of a shutdown is still quite high.