Last Friday, September 20, 2013, the House of Representatives passed, on a party line vote of 230-189, a continuing resolution (H.J.Res.59) to keep the government funded through December 15, 2013, at a sequestration level budget cap of $986.3 billion.
Rep. Scott Rigell (VA-2) was the only Republican to vote no, and Reps. Jim Matheson (UT-4) and Mike McIntyre (NC-7) were the only Democrats to vote yes.
The House legislation includes language to defund the 2010 Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and directs the Treasury to prioritize payments on public debt and Social Security benefits if the nation’s debt limit is reached. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration, where it will be taken up and likely amended later this week.
Reports indicate that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is plotting procedural measures that will allow the Senate to vote on motions to move the House legislation forward with the Obamacare defunding language intact, which will appease Senate conservatives and allow them to vote on defunding Obamacare, prior to amending out the defunding language before sending the bill to the floor for a simple majority vote, which would allow Senate Democrats to pass a “clean” continuing resolution that does not defund Obamacare. Once the Senate-amended legislation heads back to the House, likely sometime over the weekend, it is unclear how that chamber will react to the altered bill.
Complicating the path forward is the nation’s proximity to the debt limit, which will be reached in mid-October, and House votes that are scheduled on raising the debt limit for later this week. House Republicans may attempt to tie a debt limit deal to passage of the continuing resolution, which Democrats have said is a non-starter, and which could derail the legislative process.
Legislative brinksmanship will likely take the Congress to the last moment possible to strike a deal avoiding a government shutdown. Yet given the intractable positions held by both sides, it is possible an agreement will not be reached and the government will be shut down.
FEDmanager will continue to closely monitor this situation as it develops and keep our readers informed.