The Democratic-led Senate on Wednesday advanced a 2014 continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown on Oct. 1, with a 100 to 0 vote.
It is the first in a series of procedural votes that will eventually end with Democrats removing the "defund Obamacare" language from the House bill and sending a "clean" bill back to the lower chamber, for a decision before the Sept. 30 deadline.
The vote on a motion to proceed came after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, cleared the floor after staging a more than 20-hour filibuster to try to stop Democrats from voting on a bill that defunds Obamacare. Cruz was anticipating Democrats removing the defunding language from the House bill. But Cruz's efforts to talk “until I am no longer able to stand” were in the end futile because Senate rules required he yield the floor at noon.
Cruz’s tactic -- aided by other Republicans opposing Obamacare such as Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky -- has irritated others in the upper chamber, including in his party.
Arguing that shutting down the government wasn’t a good tactic, Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., told The Hill that he never expected much to come of it.
“To me it never seemed like an idea that was going to go far,” Johanns said. “It never seemed to me like it had a lot of possibilities. That doesn’t mean that it won’t get a lot of attention. The majority is the majority. That is the reality … there is a difference in being in the majority and being in the minority.”
Among those on the Democratic side who shared in the frustration was Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who has dismissed Senate backers of the House bill as “radical.” Reid said Tuesday they were only postponing the inevitable.
“Are extremist Republicans really willing to shut down the government? The world looks to America for leadership,” Reid said. “Is this lack of respect for the rule of law truly the example we wish to set for others? And are Republicans so intent on undermining both President Obama and his signature health care law that they are willing to inflict severe damage to our economy in the process?”
Reid, like some on the right, predicts the finger will be pointed at Republicans if the government should stop running on Oct. 1.
“America will know exactly who to blame: Republican fanatics in the House and Senate,” Reid said. “I urge those Republicans to listen to their more reasonable colleagues in the Senate.”
A New York Times-CBS News poll found that eight in 10 Americans disapprove of lawmakers or the president threatening a government shutdown. A Democratic survey also found that more Americans (35 percent) would blame the Republicans while 29 percent would blame Obama and 12 percent would blame Democrats.