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, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

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

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Mon, Sep 30, 2013

Apparently it boils down to do we spend money we do not have on the "health care law" aka Obama care package or do we not fund it and save the money. The politicians are sort of like two kids racing cars towards each other on a narrow one lane road in the game called "Chicken". Unfortunately, unlike the two kids, THEY are not at risk, the rest of us are.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group