Senate kicks modified CR back to the House

US Capitol

The Senate passed an amended version of a stopgap spending bill Sept. 27 that would fund federal government operations through Nov. 15, discarding a House provision that would strip funding for implementation of the 2010 health care law.

The House version would fund government operations through Dec. 15.

It remains now for the House of Representatives to vote on the measure, and members are expected to work through the weekend. In public comments, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has indicated an unwillingness to pass a continuing resolution that includes funds for the health care law. If a bill isn't passed and signed into law before the start of the new fiscal year, Oct. 1, a partial government shutdown will occur.

Boehner and Republican leaders in the House are looking to pass a measure without having to turn to the chamber's Democrats for support. This puts the leadership in the bind of having to come up with a deal that the Senate can support while not alienating their own party's conservatives, who are intent on blocking the health care overhaul's scheduled Oct. 1 rollout of the . The law, which relies on mandatory funds, will launch even if the government has to close some operations because of a lapse in discretionary appropriations.

The Senate passed the CR along party lines 54-44, after a bipartisan vote of 79-19 to end debate on the House version.

"Far too many Republicans joined Harry Reid in giving the Democrats the ability to fund Obamacare," said Texas Republican Ted Cruz. "When the bill comes back to the Senate, when the House yet again stands for principle and fights for the American people, I very much hope that Senate Republicans will rise to the challenge"

More than half of Senate Republicans voted to end debate, with some chirping at Cruz for pursuing what they considered counterproductive tactics. In an unusually pointed exchange on the Senate floor, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) accused Cruz and Utah Republican Mike Lee of holding up a Senate vote for the sake of publicity. "It just doesn't seem to me that that's in our nation's interest. Nor is it, candidly, in the interest of those who want to see good policy on the conservative side," Corker said.

A few lines of possible compromise have begun to emerge. The House could return a continuing resolution to the Senate that eliminates the tax on medical devices that is part of the 2010 law, which even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who supported the enactment of the tax, called "stupid" this week. The House could also eliminate an exception for lawmakers and staff carved out by the Office of Personnel Management that allows congressional offices to subsidize health insurance premiums for insurance bought on exchanges. Some Republicans have suggested passing a "clean" continuing resolution and shifting the fight over defunding or delaying the health care law to the coming debate on extending the debt ceiling.

Amid the din of disagreement over the health care law, Democrats and Republicans in both chambers agreed to preserve a provision in the continuing resolution designed to help keep two key satellite programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from falling behind schedule, and limiting as much as possible an anticipated gap in weather satellite coverage.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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