(WASHINGTON) — Days until government shutdown: Six
Where things stand: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., introduced the continuing resolution in the Senate Monday afternoon. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asked Reid to consider two procedural maneuvers: The first was to unanimously agree to pass the House-approved resolution, which removes funding for Obamacare, and the second was to require a 60-vote threshold for any amendments. Reid objected to both requests and later in the day filed cloture on the motion to proceed, setting up the first filibuster vote for Wednesday.
Who’s saying what: After Reid shot down his requests, Cruz tried to turn the tables on Reid, arguing that the majority leader’s objections were what’s pushing the government closer to a shutdown. “Five minutes ago, the Senate could have acted to prevent a government shutdown,” Cruz said on Monday. “But unfortunately, the majority leader chose to object and to say no. He would rather risk a government shutdown than act to prevent it.”
And Cruz warned his Republican colleagues that a vote in favor of cloture “will be voting to allow the majority leader to fund Obamacare on 51 votes.”
But shortly after Cruz tried to rally his Republican colleagues to vote against cloture, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that McConnell would not support Cruz’s filibuster push. Instead, the Kentucky Republican, along with the Senate’s No. 2, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said they would not block a bill that would defund Obamacare. Translation: They will vote in favor of cloture, since they support the House resolution, but they’ll ultimately vote against the final Senate amended resolution.
Where things are heading: It’s likely going to be a long week in the Senate. Cruz has vowed to use every procedural measure available to him, including a filibuster, to try to keep the Senate from stripping the defund Obamacare language from the CR, so it is expected that this vote will go down to the wire.
Here’s a look at how things might shake out over the next few days:
Tuesday, Sept. 24: The Senate will hold votes on some judicial nominees in the morning before heading to the weekly caucus lunches. Later in the afternoon, it will keep an eye on the Senate floor for Cruz, who is expected to speak and could lay out his plans moving forward.
Wednesday, Sept. 25: The Senate will have its first test vote when it votes to end debate on the motion to proceed, which will require 60 votes to pass. Reid has indicated this vote would occur no later than noon. If the vote passes, a 30-hour clock would start before the Senate can vote on a motion to proceed.
Thursday, Sept. 26: At the end of the 30 hours, the Senate will vote on the motion to proceed. At this time, Reid can file the amendment that would strip the Obamacare defunding language from the bill. Reid would then file cloture on the resolution, setting up a vote to end debate for Saturday.
Friday, Sept. 27: This is a day of debate during, which Cruz could launch a filibuster to try to keep the Senate from taking out the defund Obamacare language.
Saturday, Sept. 28: The Senate will vote to end debate on the resolution, which will require 60 votes. The 30-hour clock would then start, allowing for the final votes to occur on Sunday.
Sunday, Sept. 29: The Senate will hold two votes on Sunday. The first would be to approve the amendment that would strip the defunding language from the CR, and the second would be on final passage of the bill, at which point it would be sent back to the House.
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