Senate Prepares to Vote, Skip Town Ahead of Shutdown
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled four votes Friday afternoon to complete the Senate's work on the Continuing Resolution. Once the Senate passes the CR and sends it back to the House, Senators will leave DC for the weekend. They are scheduled to return Monday, just hours before the government shuts down if agreement isn't reached on spending.
This first vote, scheduled for around 12:30 EST, will be to shut off debate on the CR and proceed to amendments. This requires 60 votes for passage. Sens. Cruz and Lee have made this the defining vote on defunding ObamaCare. Once Reid gets 60 votes on this, i.e. cloture, he can then propose amendments to restore ObamaCare funding with a simply majority vote.
Once the amendments are adopted, Reid can then move to final passage, which also requires just a simple majority. The CR will then be sent back to the House, which can either accept the Senate resolution, as is, or amend it again with changes. If the House amends the resolution, the Senate would have to approve those changes.
Reid allowing Senators to go home for the weekend, just days before the government's October 1 deadline, is the highest level of brinkmanship. It also suggests he is hoping for a government shutdown. Indeed, many Democrats believe a shutdown would hurt the Republicans and boost Democrats in the midterms.
When the Senate returns Monday, it will have just hours to act on any new House language before the Midnight shutdown deadline. Only with unanimous consent could the Senate pass a new resolution that fast. Reid is steering Congress toward a shutdown.