Senate Does Its Best to Avert Gov’t Shutdown


     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Senate passed a short-term spending bill Wednesday morning, giving the House of Representatives the chance to avoid a shutdown just hours before the midnight deadline.
     Passed by 78-20 vote this morning, the resolution will fund the government until Dec. 11 at current spending levels. Republicans cast all 20 votes against the measure.
     The Senate ended debate on the so-called clean continuing resolution Monday after an unsuccessful Republican effort last week to pass a bill that would have funded the government but defunded Planned Parenthood.
     Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican with his eye on the White House, had tried to wedge another objection into the funding resolution.
     In addition to defunding the controversial health care provider, Cruz pushed for an amendment that would remove financial backing for President Barack Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal.
     With the Senate having voted to keep that deal intact earlier this month, Cruz’s attempt proved unsuccessful Monday.
     Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., spoke about the naive excitement about a possible government shutdown on the floor shortly before the vote.
     “There are actually members of the Senate and the House who are actually applauding a government shutdown,” Durbin said.
     After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., filed cloture on a military appropriations bill and said the Senate will need to pass 12 other spending bills in the near future.
     “It’s a bipartisan bill that does a lot of important things for our country, but here’s the headline: It supports our veterans,” McConnell told the Senate.
     He also urged Democrats to support the appropriations bill when it comes to the floor.
     “Now it’s time to cooperate across the aisle to finally pass it and support our veterans,” he said.
     McConnell has repeatedly criticized Democrats in floor speeches for supporting these spending bills in committee and in public statements and press releases, but not in votes when the bills come up.
     “Americans are ready to see Democrats start supporting – not blocking – the very bipartisan funding legislation Democrats previously voted for and bragged about in press releases,” McConnell said on the floor before the vote.
     Though McConnell blamed Democrats for bringing the spending bill so close to the Wednesday night deadline, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said it was the fault of Republicans unwilling to cooperate.
     “We need to start working together, not apart,” Reid said on the floor before the vote. “And working with Republicans we find it’s very difficult to develop any kinds of partnerships as we’ve always done in the past until Republican leaders took over the Congress.”
     McConnell told reporters Tuesday that he hoped to begin discussions about a long-term solution for the budget with Obama and outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner.
     The majority leader insisted the temporary spending bill would not be the end of budget talks in the Senate, and his colleagues across the aisle agreed.
     “Highway bill would be good, cybersecurity would be good,” Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mt., said while leaving the vote about bills he hopes are taken up with the shutdown avoided. “Or better yet a budget that funds us next year.”

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