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article imageSenate kicks 'shutdown ball' back to House GOP

By William M. Schmalfeldt     Sep 27, 2013 in Politics
Washington - The ball is back in the court of the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives, as the Democrat-controlled Senate has passed legislation to avert a government shutdown. However, a shutdown looms as House GOPers seem determined to have one.
Talking Points Memo reported the final vote was 54 to 44 on party lines. Republicans unanimously opposed it because it didn't defund Obamacare, the cause that has animated the party base for months. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) did not vote.
The Senate legislation keeps the government funded at the current austerity level of $986.3 billion. It makes three changes to the House-passed bill: it includes funding for Obamacare; it strips out a provision to prioritize debt payments in the event of default; and it keeps the government funded until Nov. 15, rather than Dec. 15.
Reid set it up so Republicans didn't have to vote to fund Obamacare -- the cause that's animated the party's base. The first vote required 60 senators to end debate on a House-passed bill, and it passed 79 to 19. The second was to waive budget points of order, passed by a margin of 68 to 30. The third was to essentially replace the House CR with the Senate Democrats' version, passed by a vote of 54 to 44 along party lines. And then final passage.
Not good enough, said Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH). He told reporters Thursday that he would not accept a bill from the Senate that does not defund the Affordable Care Act.
He declined to reveal what the House would do instead. "There are options that'll be available to us," Boehner said. He refused to concede that there's a good chance of a shutdown, which would occur next Tuesday at midnight when the new fiscal year begins.
TPM reports that GOP divisions spilled out onto the Senate floor Thursday. As Digital Journal reported Thursday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) scolded Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee for bringing the government to the brink of a shut down. But Cruz and Lee are standing pat, backed by well-funded conservative groups.
"A lot of Republicans, they've been here a long time. They are beaten down," Cruz told Fox News on Thursday night. "They're scared that if we stand together on this and if a government shutdown results, that Republicans will be blamed and it's too politically risky."
Cruz and Lee have failed. And now Boehner faces the unenviable task, again, of getting his GOP members to agree to fund the government without attaching poison pills.
Further complicating matters is the fact that Congress needs lift the debt ceiling by Oct. 17 or risk a debt default that could lead to a global financial catastrophe.
That's an even tougher vote for House Republicans, and Boehner is dangling just about every conservative goodie imaginable before them in an attempt to stave off a shutdown now, and default later.
It doesn't seem to be working as Speaker Boehner continues to demonstrate an inability to control the far right wing, Tea Party portion of his caucus that seems to believe that shutting down the government is preferable to funding Obamacare. Apparently, the irony of the fact that the Obamacare exchanges will begin accepting applications regardless of a shutdown is lost on these legislators.
More about government shutdown, US Senate, US House of Representatives
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