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There's less time to avoid a government shutdown than you think

Sen. Ted Cruz filibusters the health law.

Sen. Ted Cruz filibusters the health law.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, delivered an old-style filibuster over President Barack Obama's health care law Tuesday. He criticized the law, talked about the Revolutionary War and even linked his Cuban-born father who worked as a cook to a recitation of Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham. Tuesday night, he had held the floor for eight hours. His filibuster is unlikely to last: Republicans lack the votes to stop Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., from moving ahead on the spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. Story, 9A

DEADLINE: By 11:59 p.m. Monday, a continuing resolution to keep the government running through mid December must be passed or the federal government will shut down. The GOP-led House has approved a continuing resolution that also defunds Obamacare. Here's what happens next:

TODAY: The Senate's first "cloture" vote, which is how you overcome a filibuster, will be taken late this morning. The chamber is almost certain to vote to proceed. Next step: 30 hours of debate on a motion to proceed before debate can start on the actual bill.

THURSDAY: In the afternoon or evening, the 30 hours of debate in the Senate will expire. Senators are likely to pass the motion that formally begins debate on the bill. Simultaneously, Majority Leader Harry Reid will file a second motion setting up the next vote to try to stop the last filibuster attempt by Cruz and other Obamacare opponents. They will then have until Saturday to make their final stand to persuade enough GOP colleagues to filibuster the legislation. Next step: final vote to end filibuster.

SATURDAY: If the final filibuster vote receives 60 ayes, it will lock in a time for a final vote on the bill. Reid will call up his amendment to strip out the portion that defunds Obamacare. Next step: Senate votes on the bill.

SUNDAY: Reid will need just a simple majority to pass his amendment, then a simple majority to approve the new bill and send it back to the House. Final passage could come around dinnertime. The bill will then go to the House, with a countdown clock of roughly 30 hours until government funding expires. Next step: The bill goes to the House.

MONDAY: House Speaker John Boehner faces a momentous decision: He can either call a vote on the Senate bill that includes funding for the health care law, or he can try to attach something else to it that gains a majority so he can send the bill back to the Senate. At this point, it's unclear what would be attached to the legislation and whether 218 Republicans would support it. Boehner could try a poison pill other than defunding Obamacare, but many Republicans may oppose it because a vote for it would be a vote for funding the health care law. If Boehner does go this route, and if he gets the votes, there will almost certainly be a shutdown.

Washington Post

Two questions about the budget battle

Why would GOP senators try to filibuster their own bill? Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, are the two conservatives poised to pick up the fight mounted by House Republicans and push to repeal the health-care law in the Senate. With 54 members of the Senate Democratic caucus, Reid will easily hold off Cruz and Lee. So what could they do? They can filibuster the House-passed bill, even though that means blocking the very Obamacare-defunding measure that they want Congress to approve. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the GOP leader in the Senate, announced this week he will not vote to block the House bill, so it's likely that many Senate Republicans will not go along with Cruz and Lee.

What does the debt-limit have to do with all of this? Next month, the federal government will again hit the limit of the amount of money it can borrow unless Congress votes to raise that limit. Rather than continuing the fight Monday over the budget resolution, House GOP leaders could argue to their caucus that they could use the October debt-limit deadline to take up the effort to defund the health-care law and avoid a painful shutdown in the meantime. Again, it's entirely unclear whether enough Republicans would go along. If not, the government would shut down.

Washington Post

There's less time to avoid a government shutdown than you think 09/24/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 11:06pm]

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