Three funding measures failed to pass because of Democrat opposition in the House on Tuesday night that would have maintained veterans’ benefits, kept national monuments and other historic sites opened, and continued local funding for the District of Columbia.
As a result of these votes happening during the suspension calendar, a 2/3 majority was necessary for passage, but not enough Democrats voted for the measures. Republicans were shocked that a majority of House Democrats did not vote for the bills considering the history of the circumstances.
Interestingly, Democrats in Congress and President Bill Clinton approved of similar interim funding measures during the last government shutdown, which lasted from December 16, 1995 to January 5, 1996. Five days after the shutdown, Congress passed funding measures that would restore funding to veterans’ benefits as well as appropriation for local funds in the District of Columbia.
Both measures were quickly discharged out of House Committee on Appropriations and passed by voice votes on the floor of the House the same day. The Senate considered both funding measures that day and also passed them by voice vote. The resolution made it to the White House immediately following Congressional passage, where Clinton signed the appropriations into law.
Flash forward to today, however, and Democrats view the Republican measures as a political slap in the face. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sniffed at the piecemeal bills, telling Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to “stop the games, think about the people he is hurting, and let the House pass the Senate’s bill to reopen the government with Republican and Democratic votes.”
The battle of public perception appears to be the actual fight between both parties. Whoever Americans ultimately blame for the pains form the government shutdown will more than likely call themselves the winner. According to the latest Pew research poll, “about as may say the Obama administration would be to blame for failing to avoid a shutdown (36%) as Republicans (39%).” This is in huge contrast, says Pew, to the polling done at outset of the shutdown in ’95 when Americans largely blamed the GOP.
Republican and Democratic leaders from both chambers met at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, the second day of the government shutdown, and left without agreeing to a deal that could reopen the government.