Time A Factor In Shutdown Debate, And There’s Less Than You Think

Ezra Klein notes that there isn’t necessarily as much time to resolve the government shutdown crisis as you think:

1) The Senate files cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill. A “cloture” vote — which is how you overcome a filibuster — takes two full calendar days. So that takes us to Wednesday.

2) There are 30 hours of post-cloture debate. If Cruz and his compatriots choose to burn time — and they probably will — that means it’ll be Thursday before the Senate is actually on the bill.

3) The Senate files cloture to move to a vote on the bill and the amendment stripping out the “defund” language, as Majority Leader Harry Reid has pledged. Two more calendar days. Now it’s Saturday.

4) Another 30 hours of post-cloture debate. Now it’s Sunday. Finally, the actual vote can happen.

5) The Senate sends the bill back to the House. That’ll probably happen on Monday, Sept. 30.

The key is what happens after that. The House could just pass the Senate’s CR and send it to the president. If that happens, no shutdown. But if they don’t want to pass the Senate’s CR — which won’t defund Obamacare or offer any new concessions to House Republicans — there’s no real time left to send a new bill back to the Senate. “If that happens,” one Senate aide told me, “I think we just go to shutdown.”

Now, it’s possible for the Senate to act quickly, if all 100 senators agree to act quickly, but Cruz, et al have shown no inclination of being willing to act quickly on anything that doesn’t defund Obamacare. To believe there could be some rapid-fire exchange of compromise bills on Sept. 30 means believing that Cruz and Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee and others agree to abet the exchange.

Now, there’s nothing preventing from the two sides in the Hill from negotiating a resolution to this whole mess while the Senate process is going on, but the later we get into the week, the harder it’s going to be get something other than an extension that lasts a couple of days passed into law before the clock runs out next Monday night.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Healthcare Policy, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Moosebreath says:

    The only thing I think which may move it faster is that the 2 30 hours for debate are 15 for each side. If the Democrats can restrain their grandstanders (Schumer, etc.), they could move it slightly faster.

    Whether that actually helps is another matter.

  2. al-Ameda says:

    There really is plenty of time for the political party that is out of power to screw things up as they did 2 years ago – cause a 5% drop in the stock market, and let the bond rating agencies know that we’re ready for another downgrade and loss of value in the portfolios of many citizens and institutions who hold American securities.

  3. anjin-san says:

    another downgrade and loss of value in the portfolios of many citizens and institutions who hold American securities.

    I think they just don’t give a fu*k. I’ve been saying for years, these folks have a single agenda. Damage Obama by any means possible.

    What’s a trillions or so lost to IRAs and 401Ks compared to being able to talk about “President Shutdown” & “President Downgrade”?