Senate Speeds Up Budget Standoff

BY Christina Bellantoni  September 26, 2013 at 8:53 AM EST


Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Heads up, House Speaker John Boehner.

The Senate on Wednesday edged closer to approving a temporary spending measure to keep the government running past Sept. 30 that would also preserve funding for President Barack Obama’s health care reform law.

The Morning LineThe unanimous vote came after a group of the chamber’s conservative members, led by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, staged a 21-hour and 19-minute talkathon in opposition to Obamacare. But when all was said and done, even Cruz voted to take up the bill, saying the real showdown would come on the next procedural vote, which is now expected to come Friday.

Democrats lampooned Cruz’s strategy. “For lack of a better way of describing this, it has been a big waste of time,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The Nevada Democrat also told his colleagues that further delays could risk a potential shutdown in five days.

“We should get this matter back to the House of Representatives as soon as we can. They may want to change something in this,” Reid said. “Each hour that we waste is one less hour that we’ll have an opportunity to look at this.”

Senators reached a deal Wednesday to speed up the process, with a final vote coming Saturday, a day earlier than previously thought. That would give the Republican-controlled House extra time to consider revising the measure and returning it to the Senate. But with funding set to run out at the end of the day Monday.

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein has details on how Republicans plan to play the next few hands.

Republican aides in both chambers feel that Boehner’s hand has been strengthened by Cruz’s inability to move the debate in the Senate. But they caution that Reid could still gum up any House plans by keeping Senate Democrats united.

That’s why four separate senior aides from both chambers say they would be very surprised if Boehner turned around and tried to craft another short-term continuing resolution that sought major changes to the president’s health care law.

On Tuesday night, reports emerged that House Republicans were considering adding a one-year delay to the law’s individual mandate in their next legislative offer. But sources on the Hill quickly put a stop to the suggestions.

One top GOP aide said putting that provision into the next draft of a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government was not “at all likely,” in part because the party has already decided to make a delay to the mandate a part of their proposal for lifting the debt ceiling in mid-October.

A Senate Republican aide echoed that theory. When asked whether the party would touch Obamacare during the next CR debate, the aide responded, “I seriously doubt it.”

The House has turned to that matter of the debt ceiling this week as it waits on the Senate. Leaders plan to attach a handful of conservative priorities to the measure, including the one-year delay of Obamacare. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned Wednesday the nation will reach its borrowing limit on Oct. 17.

The Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery and Juliet Eilperin report on some of the behind-the-scenes strategizing taking place among House Republicans:

GOP leaders met for nearly 90 minutes Wednesday afternoon to discuss the strategy, which they plan to present to rank-and-file lawmakers Thursday morning. If it wins approval, the leaders hope to introduce the debt-limit bill Thursday and hold a vote as soon as Saturday — letting GOP lawmakers mount a fresh assault on the health-care law before deciding whether to shut down the government.

And after a meeting with Reid and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, Democrats “are holding off on saying what they’ll support when it comes time for them to vote on a [continuing resolution] sent back from the Senate. And they’re opposed to a debt ceiling hike that includes any other measures,” [reports](http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/house-democrats-meet-with-harry-reid-denis-mcdonough-97380.html#ixzz2g03cxtti) Politico’s Ginger Gibson.

The president is expected to address all of this head on during an event Thursday in Maryland. A White House official told reporters that the morning speech will focus on health care and that Mr. Obama aims to “cut through all the noise coming out of Washington and speak directly, in plain and honest terms, about what the Affordable Care Act means for consumers.”

The White House has been hailing new estimates showing insurance premiums could be lower than expected. (More on that from the NewsHour here.)

On Wednesday’s NewsHour, Kwame Holman reported on Cruz’s marathon floor effort and the vote to move forward with the spending bill.

Watch the segment here or below:

[ DUE TO RIGHTS RESTRICTIONS, VIDEO IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE ]

Judy Woodruff then spoke with two senators — Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson and Virginia Democrat Mark Warner — about the funding fight. The lawmakers were agreeable, but couldn’t have been further apart on the issue of the health care law and what might happen next.

Watch the segment here or below:


LINE ITEMS

  • Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray defies tradition and deems all D.C. workers “essential” in case of a government shutdown. In announcing the move, the Democrat scolded Congress on a need to get its fiscal house in order.

  • The Hill’s Jordy Yager has more on how Capitol Hill aides would suffer under a shutdown. In some cases, it would mean no paychecks.

  • Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe sparred over national issues at a debate in Northern Virginia Wednesday, but it was “not the kind of pivotal, game-changing moment Cuccinelli hoped could change the trajectory of an off-year race,” write Politico’s James Hohmann and Katie Glueck. Here’s a transcript.

  • And the Washington Post’s Laura Vozzella and Fredrick Kunkle detail the battle on the airwaves.

  • In a piece datelined from Atlanta, Perry Bacon Jr. writes for The Grio that some advocates in the South are leaving the “Obama” part out of their “Obamacare” sales pitch.

  • Politico’s Seung Min Kim gets at the internal Democratic Party battles over a lack of action on immigration reform.

  • Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner rounds up the Democrats who served as presiding officers while Cruz held the floor.

  • WonkBlog notices that the insurance premiums release was getting very good local coverage in Wednesday papers.

  • Former Sen. Alan Simpson told his local paper that Lynne Cheney, the wife of the former vice president and mother to Senate hopeful Liz Cheney, told him to “shut up” at an event in Cody, Wyoming. Lynne Cheney responded in a statement that the dispute had nothing to do with the primary between her daughter and GOP Sen. Mike Enzi. She said Simpson “was rude to my granddaughter and I told him he was out of line.”

  • Within three years, California’s minimum wage will be the highest in the nation at $10. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed the change into law Wednesday.

  • Sari Horowitz reports for the Washington Post: “In another black eye for the beleaguered agency that regulates guns and investigates tobacco trafficking, a new report found that federal agents lost track of 2.1 million cartons of cigarettes and paid an informant more than $4.9 million without requiring him to account for his expenses.”

  • The New York Times is premiering a documentary on failed Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn’s campaign.

  • Did you know that “Green Eggs and Ham” was written in 1960 as a response to a challenge by Dr. Suess’ editor to write a book using fewer than 50 words? That and other facts are in this NBC post from Kasie Hunt and Carrie Dann. They asked “Suessologists” to weigh in on the moral message.

  • Gasp! PandaCam could be a victim of a government shutdown.

  • The National Security Agency had done secret surveillance of a number of anti-war advocates during the Vietnam War era, including two U.S. Senators, Foreign Policy reports.

  • Smithsonian Magazine tells us all about a photo of the Gettysburg Address which may have Abraham Lincoln far in the distance and have ignited an interesting debate.

  • George H.W. Bush was recently a witness at a same-sex marriage in Maine.

  • The Washington Post notices that journalists get jobs in the Obama administration.

  • We missed this earlier in the week: Rep. Paul Ryan is writing a book on the Republican Party. It comes out in August 2014.

  • The National Harbor might just be getting a casino.

  • Which Founding Father are you? Take the quiz.

  • “Really, the most shocking part of this story was learning there is a vegan strip club in Portland.” That’s right, Cory Booker top aide Kevin Griffis wins the statement of the day award in this NSFW post about Twitter DMs.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

TOP TWEETS

Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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