The Democratic-led U.S. Senate voted 54-44 on Friday to pass a continuing resolution that will appropriate $986 billion to avert a government shutdown on Sept. 30 and appropriate money for Obamacare.
The vote came after a week of contentious debate on a Republican-sponsored U.S. House bill that provided funds for the government but that withheld money from the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. As expected, the Democratic majority amended the bill, removing the defund Obamacare language from the House legislation, but not before an ineffective filibuster earlier this week by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who opposed the Democratic-led Senate restoring the health care law’s funding.
Republicans largely support the House measure because it takes money away from Obamacare.
Even so, both Senate and House Republicans lashed out at Cruz both in the news and on social media. Further, their annoyance with the Texas senator was evident on the Senate floor on Thursday, when Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., criticized Cruz and his allies for risking a government shutdown instead of setting good policy.
Cruz and ally Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, have argued that anyone voting for cloture, which ended debate on the stopgap funding bill that defunds Obamacare, is allowing Reid and Democrats to fund the law.
Corker exposed Cruz for his grandstanding on Thursday, saying the freshman senator seemed more interested in putting on a show than instituting good policy.
“Is it more important to the senator from Texas and the senator from Utah that the people around the country watch this vote?” Corker said. “Or is it more important to us that we have a good policy outcome from our standpoint and actually have a body that has majority of Republicans be able to react and send back something of good policy. This is confusing to me.”
The Tennessee Republican also showed up his colleague, saying he has never seen a lawmaker turn around and vote for a bill they filibustered.
“After a 21-hour filibuster yesterday you voted in favor of a thing you’re filibustering,” Corker said, later explaining to Cruz the process the Senate was about to undertake.
“I think the senator from Texas may be confused,” Corker said. “We’re not going to be voting on the [Reid] amendment. We’ll have the chance to vote on the amendment after the vote on cloture. The vote on cloture tomorrow is ending debate on a bill we support.”
On Friday, the Senate voted 79-19 to end the debate on House resolution, just before amending the bill to restore money to the health care law.
The resolution now returns to the House where lawmakers in the lower chamber will hold weekend sessions to act on the bill. Politico reported Wednesday that House Republicans are mulling attaching a one-year delay of the health care law to the Senate measure.
A strategy like this could increase the likelihood of a government shutdown on Monday because Senate Democrats have warned that bills that defund to impact Obamacare are “dead.”
A government shutdown would cause certain operations to stop, with only “essential” programs such as air traffic control and border patrol continuing. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of nonessential employees would have to stay home, meaning some checks -- while they would still go out -- could be late because of the shortage of workers. As for the impact on ordinary Americans, the national parks, zoos and museums would be closed as well as some government offices (including those issuing gun permits and passports) would be closed or backed up.
Laura is a U.S. politics reporter for the International Business Times. She was always fascinated by the BBC World News each morning on the radio in Jamaica. That, and a love...