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Broken Government

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Senate Democratic Leader foresees Government Shutdown

December 13th 2014

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) accused a small group of Senate Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), of risking a government shutdown by playing politics with the year-end spending omnibus.

“Regrettably a small group of Senate republicans has determined it’s in their political interests to hold this legislation hostage,” Reid fumed on the Senate floor shortly after noon Saturday.

Reid warned that a government shutdown is looming because Republicans objected to passing a five-day stopgap funding measure by unanimous consent on Friday.
Government funding expires at midnight Saturday unless the Senate approves with unanimous consent a House-passed measure to keep federal agencies open through Wednesday.

“I remind everyone at 12:00 midnight, the United States government tonight runs out of money,” he said. “We even tried to get an agreement to extend government funding a few extra days while we worked to pass a long-term funding bill but the republicans wouldn’t let us do that. So now we wait.”

Senate Republicans said Friday they were prepared to vote on the omnibus and a package extending expired tax provisions that same day but a potential deal was scuttled by Reid’s insistence on confirming 20 of President Obama’s executive and judicial nominees.

Reid rejected that narrative on the floor and accused Republican colleagues of having deep misgivings about the spending package.

“It’s clear that this impasse that we’re having today is not about nominees, it’s about preventing us from funding the government so now on the eve of our government running out of funding, Senate Republicans are forcing really unnecessary procedural votes just to waste time and slow us down from funding the government,” he said.

Reid explained he was holding votes on nominees so that the chamber wouldn’t waste time while it waited for the procedural clock to run on the omnibus.

“The Republican leader has known for weeks if not months we intend to vote on the president’s nominations. So it’s clear that this impasse we’re having here today is not about nominees. It’s about preventing us from funding the government,” he said.

But Republicans say they are not delaying votes on the omnibus but instead speeding them up, noting that Reid tried to secure an agreement on Friday that would have postponed them until Monday so the Senate would not have had to work through the weekend.

Alexander Bolton writes for The Hill, from where this article is adapted.

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