government shutdown

Harry Reid: Capitol Hill’s most unpopular leader

The narrative in the media is that House Republicans will take a majority of the blame from voters for a government shutdown, which talking heads and pundits say is an example of their unwillingness to work with President Barack Obama.

But new Gallup poll shows that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is Capitol Hill’s most unpopular leader, surpassing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the latter of whom previously took the dishonor.

According to the poll, which was conducted between September 5-8, only 33% of American adults approve of Reid, while 53% disapprove, putting his approval rating underwater by 20 points.

Boehner doesn’t come out much better, at 37/54 (-17), while Pelosi is at 39/51 (-12). Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who will face a tough fight for re-election next year, is the only congressional leader who has a disapproval rating under 50%, though he’s still underwater, at 35/47 (-12).

The poll come as Congress faces high-priority issues, including passing a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government and raising the debt ceiling. The House passed a CR last week that defunded ObamaCare, President Barack Obama’s top domestic achievement.

House Republicans may alter CR after Senate sends it back

Eric Cantor and John Boehner

It doesn’t sound like the legislative wrangling over the Continuing Resolution (CR) will be over once the Senate acts. The Hill notes that some House Republicans have indicated that they may amend the measure, sending it back to the Senate, further increasing the prospects over a government shutdown:

Senate Democrats have vowed to remove a provision in the House-passed continuing resolution (CR) that withholds money from President Obama’s healthcare law. If they send back a “clean” version, House leaders would have to decide whether to accept it, or amend it and send it back across the Capitol.

“I don’t think we’re going to accept a clean CR,” Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.) said.
“I don’t think that’s the end of the negotiations,” Boustany said. “We may have a shut down temporarily.”

Two members of the leadership team, Reps. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Steve Southerland (R-Fla.), said it was more likely the House would try to amend the spending bill rather than accept the Senate’s version.

“I think it’s more likely that we would edit that rebound and send something back over that was more in line with our values, and I don’t think a clean CR necessarily is that,” Southerland said.

Senate begins debate on CR, Cruz again threatens filibuster

Ted Cruz

The United States Senate took its first steps yesterday on the Continuing Resolution (CR), setting up a test vote on a motion to proceed on the measure on Wednesday. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) began discussion on the CR yesterday by slamming Republicans in Congress, again smearing them by calling them anarchists.

“President Obama has been clear, and I have been clear: Any bill that defunds ObamaCare is dead on arrival in the Senate. The Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for 4 years now. Democrats are willing to work with reasonable Republicans to improve this law,” said Reid from the Senate floor.

“But we are not going to bow to tea party anarchists who deny the mere fact that ObamaCare is the law. We will not bow to tea party anarchists who refuse to accept that the Supreme Court ruled ObamaCare to be constitutional,” he said. “And we will not bow to tea party anarchists in the House or in the Senate who ignore the fact that President Obama was overwhelmingly reelected a few months ago.”

Reid said that opponents of ObamaCare were putting the economy at risk by trying to defund the law and noted comments by several Republican senators who are on record slamming the approach being taken by their conservative colleagues. He also tried to spin ObamaCare’s plummeting poll numbers.

Cruz, Lee discuss defunding ObamaCare on Sunday shows

Ted Cruz on Fox News Sunday

There will be a showdown in the Senate this week on the Continuing Resolution (CR) and ObamaCare funding, that much was made clear by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) yesterday during his appearance on Fox News Sunday.

Last week, Cruz hinted that he would filibuster any CR that didn’t defund ObamaCare. But Cruz told Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday, that he may attempt to block the motion to proceed on the House version of the CR if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans to use a simple majority to strip out language that would defund ObamaCare.

“The first order of business is going to be to ask Harry Reid if he will agree to allow amendments to be subject to a 60-vote threshold — and that’s typical in the Senate; we have a lot of amendments that are subject to 60-vote thresholds,” Cruz told Wallace.

“Now, in all likelihood he will say no because he wants to use brute political power to force Obamacare funding through with just Democrats, exactly the same way he passed the bill three years ago,” said Cruz. “Now, if he does that, then Senate Republicans have the tool that we always use when the majority leader is abusing his power, which is we can deny cloture. We can filibuster and say we will not allow you to add the funding back for Obamacare with just 51 votes.”

House passes stop-gap spending measure, defunds ObamaCare

CR passes the House

The House of Representatives has passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the federal government until mid-December by a vote of 230 to 189. The stop-gap spending measure also contains language to defund ObamaCare, the very controversial 2010 healthcare law.

As you can see above, it was mostly a party-line vote, though two Democrats voted for the CR, while one Republican — Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) — voted against it. You can read his explanation for his “no” vote here. Reps. Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Mike McIntyre (D-NC) were the Democrats who voted for the CR.

House Republicans immediately held a press conference after the vote where conference leadership explained that they took action to defund ObamaCare “on behalf of the American people,” a majority of whom oppose the law and want it repealed, and hailed the CR’s passage as a “bipartisan vote.” They also explained that ObamaCare is having precarious effects on the nation’s economy and Americans.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) called out Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Begich (D-AK) — Democrats who are running for re-election in states won by Mitt Romney in 2012 — citing concerns from residents and business owners from their respective states.

“The House has listened to the American people, now it’s time for the United States Senate as well,” said Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to cheers and applause from Republican conference members.

Senate likely to strip language to defund ObamaCare

A procedural strategy being looked at by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would strike the language to defund ObamaCare out of the Continuing Resolution (CR), according to a report from The Hill:

Reid’s first move would be to schedule a vote to end debate on proceeding to the House continuing resolution. This would require 60 votes. Republican senators would vote to proceed to the bill because it would including the language to defund ObamaCare.

Then he would fill the amendment tree, defining what amendments could be considered in relation to the House legislation.

Reid would be sure that one of the pending amendments is a so-called “amendment to strike,” which would allow him schedule a future vote on stripping the language defunding ObamaCare and prioritizing debt payments.

Then Reid would schedule a vote to end debate on the House continuing resolution and proceed to final passage. This vote also requires 60 votes.
After this second cloture vote has passed, the pending amendments can be approved with a simple majority vote. At this point, Reid could strike the language defunding ObamaCare and prioritizing debt payments without having to rely on Republican votes. He could strike the language with Democratic votes alone.

Ted Cruz hints at filibuster on ObamaCare funding

During a press conference yesterday with conservative House Republicans who pushed leadership for a vote to defund ObamaCare, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that he will use every procedural tool at his disposal to stop a Continuing Resolution (CR) that appropriates taxpayer dollars for the law.

“I will do everything necessary and anything possible to defund Obamacare,” said Cruz, who was then asked about the possibility of a filibuster. “Yes, and anything else. Any procedural means necessary. Any procedural means necessary,” calling efforts to defund ObamaCare the “most important fight in the country.”

Cruz again conceded that the effort in the Senate would be difficult to accomplish. He told reporters at a separate event that “it is likely that it will take another election for a full repeal.” He also blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for the threat of a government shutdown, noting that he refuses to listen to a majority of Americans who oppose ObamaCare.

“In all likelihood, it’s not going to be a single-shot CR and everything is resolved and done. As soon as the House passes this into law, it’s going to be in Harry Reid’s court,” Cruz told reporters in the ObamaCare press conference. “And he may well be able to hold his 54 Democrats to not listen to the American people, to threaten to shutdown the federal government, to deny American families the same special treatment that big corporations and members of Congress are getting.”

Cruz said that if Reid does send the CR back to the House, then Republicans will have to make the case to Americans “on the substance” of they’re effort to defund and delay ObamaCare.

Republican stop-gap spending measure gains more co-sponsors

Editor’s note: Rep. Tom Graves has announced seven additional co-sponsors to his proposed spending measure, according to a post on his Facebook page. This brings the total to 66 co-sponsors.

Just days after introducing a measure to delay and defund ObamaCare for the upcoming fiscal year, Rep. Tom Graves’ office announced more support from House Republicans for his proposal.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) were forced to delay a vote last week on a Continuing Resolution that conservative members of the Republican conference said would fund ObamaCare. Congress must pass and President Obama must sign a stop-gap spending measure by the end of the month, when the current fiscal year ends, to avoid a government shutdown.

Graves, a Republican from Georgia, introduced the Stability, Security and Fairness Resolution on Thursday. This proposal, an alternative to the strategy pushed by House Republican leaders, would fund the federal government a post-sequester levels, with the exception of defense and national security. More importantly, this measure would directly take on ObamaCare, pushing back the law until 2015.

“[O]ur plan will achieve fairness for every American by fully delaying and defunding Obamacare until 2015,” said Graves in a press release last week. “This approach builds upon the Obama Administration’s policy of delaying portions of Obamacare and relieves taxpayers of the burden of funding a program that is not being implemented.”

CNN poll: ObamaCare support drops, despite big marketing push

Support for ObamaCare has dropped below 40%, according to a poll conducted by CNN, even as the Obama Administration ramps up its efforts to promote the law before the state insurance exchanges launch at the beginning of October.

The poll, released on Wednesday, shows that only 39% of Americans favor all or most of ObamaCare, while 57% have an unfavorable view of the law. Those numbers have changed in a big way since the beginning of the year, when CNN found that 51% of Americans favored ObamaCare.

Here’s a look at the shift over time, as noted by CNN:

CNN's ObamaCare polling

The most recent CNN poll also found a shift on President Obama’s healthcare policy approval rating, with 54% now disapproving of his performance on the issue, up from 49% at the beginning of the year. Only 44% approval of his approach to healthcare, down from 50% in January.

Here’s a look at selected CNN polls on President Obama’s healthcare approval rating. As you can see, he hasn’t done well on the issue, despite his uptick in January 2013, which appears to be an outlier:

 Obama's healthcare approval rating

House GOP leaders forced to delay vote on spending measure

Eric Cantor and John Boehner

It looks like Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) will have to go back to the drawing board if they hope to pass a measure that funds the federal government.

Facing backlash from conservative members of their conference, The Hill reports that GOP leaders have temporarily delayed a vote on a Continuing Resolution for the upcoming fiscal year that would fund ObamaCare:

House GOP leaders have delayed a vote on a bill to avert a government shutdown until next week.

An aide to Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) confirmed the decision, which is designed to give GOP leaders more time to round up votes.

Leaders have been scrambling to gain 217 votes for their plan to fund the government through Dec. 15 while forcing the Senate to vote up or down on a measure to defund ObamaCare.

The plan has faced opposition from dissatisfied conservatives who argue it won’t actually lead to the defunding of the healthcare law. They are pushing to include language defunding ObamaCare in the resolution funding the government.

House Republican leadership has tried to push a cheap legislative gimmick in which they would pass a Continuing Resolution and a separate non-binding measure to defund ObamaCare. The thinking is that they this path would allow a vote to defund ObamaCare and avoid a government shutdown.

But if the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, didn’t first pass the measure defunding ObamaCare, they could still pass a clean Continuing Resolution that funds the unpopular law.

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