Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 3, 2015

Senate Votes to Keep Obamacare Funded, Sends CR Back to House

Ted Cruz

Cruz spoke on the Senate floor for 21 hours in an attempt to get Republicans to block a stopgap spending measure without language to defund Obamacare. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate sent a stopgap spending bill back to the House Friday, after a party-line vote to strip out language that would have cut off funding to the Affordable Care Act.

The House is expected to take up the measure as soon as Saturday, but it is not yet clear how Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, would get either the “clean” continuing resolution passed by the Senate or another amended version approved by his restive conference. Boehner indicated Thursday that he intended to change the Senate bill and send it back to that chamber, prompting Senate Democrats to warn that such an action would make a government shutdown on Oct. 1 almost inevitable.

Senate passage of the bill occurred as expected. First, 25 Republicans joined all members of the Democratic caucus in voting to limit debate on the measure — thereby killing an attempted filibuster by Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Mike Lee, R-Utah, and their allies. Sixty votes were needed. The final vote was 79-19; two Republicans did not vote.

Cruz had attempted to shame Senate Republicans into blocking the stopgap measure, arguing for 21 hours on the Senate floor Tuesday into Wednesday that filibustering was the only way to prevent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., from eliminating the House provision to defund Obamacare.

But many Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., rejected Cruz’s argument, saying the Texas firebrand was attempting to get Republicans to vote against a bill they actually supported. Additionally, they argued that filibustering the bill would only end up shutting the government down while Obamacare would remain funded through mandatory spending.

The vote to limit debate, or invoke cloture, occurred before the vote to strip the Obamacare defunding provision, which was key to those Republicans’ calculations. All five members of the GOP leadership voted to cut off debate on the bill.

The Senate also overcame a 60-vote threshold on a vote to waive budget points of order against the bill. Again, several Republicans joined Democrats to leap that hurdle in the 68-30 vote.

But Democrats shouldered the burden in stripping language to defund the 2010 health care law. In the 54-44 vote — which only needed a simple majority to prevail — all Republicans voted to keep the House language.

The Senate then voted, 54-44, to send the bill back to the House. Again, only a simple majority was needed.

House GOP leaders have been scrambling for days to find a plan that would get them to 218 votes, and without any sort of health care language, they might not be able to pass a bill without Democratic help. Sources say the GOP leadership team has tried to impress upon rank-and-file members that they would be blamed in the event of the shutdown, but so far that effort has not helped.

In the Senate, a rift between the majority of the caucus and Cruz and Lee blew out into the open Thursday, with Lee, Cruz and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., hashing it out on the floor. Corker tried to create separation between the GOP conference and the two tea party members, saying that they were the only ones keeping a bill from being dispatched to the House, despite the urging of House leaders to send legislation as soon as possible.

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  1. Ricke1949

    Sept. 27, 2013
    2:57 p.m.

    This will precipitate a shutdown partial. If Obama tries to end run this by issuing more debt we will slide into a constitutional crisis. Stay tuned.

    • swerver

      Sept. 27, 2013
      3:22 p.m.

      deficit is dropping at the fastest clip since WWII.

      • Ricke1949

        Sept. 27, 2013
        3:26 p.m.

        The deficit will be 900 billion this year(approximate).
        It was 482 trillion in 2008 ( Last year of Bush.)
        Sure we are going from 1.3 trillion so the total number will be great. But these numbers are still off the wall.

      • The Painful Truth

        Sept. 27, 2013
        3:43 p.m.

        And yet the deficit will still be twice as high as any other annual deficit recorded prior to Obama’s occupancy of the WH.

      • Emfourty Gasmask

        Sept. 27, 2013
        6:32 p.m.

        then why are we trying to raise the debt ceiling?

      • Perilous Liberty

        Sept. 28, 2013
        7:27 a.m.

        You can thank the GOP House for any deficit decrease, but Obama will not cut spending unless he is forced to.

  2. The Painful Truth

    Sept. 27, 2013
    3:42 p.m.

    Cruz spoke for 21 hours, predicting exactly what happened today, that if the GOP didn’t stand united and filibuster the bill, the defunding language would be stripped out and sent back to the House where the GOP would face blame for the impasse. The establishment GOP wrongfully criticized Cruz, and hard-working tax-paying Americans lost. Big surprise!

  3. tpaine1

    Sept. 27, 2013
    4:03 p.m.

    I am so embarrassed that both my Senators – Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker – supported Harry Reid and the ObamaCare Tax and voted AGAINST the 60 vote rule and the average American smuck like me who thought they would actually “represent” me.
    PS I did send a $1,000 contribution to Lamar’s opponent. I don’t like being made a SMUCK.

  4. thereasonableprogressive

    Sept. 27, 2013
    4:25 p.m.

    Wouldn’t the Republican Party do better if it planned and worked to win the 2014 and 2016 elections, and THEN repealed the ACA? The party admits that it is reduced to holding the economy and the country hostage because it’s the only “leverage” it has. But as strong conservatives, they should know that American democracy doesn’t work that way. Win a working majority in both chambers of Congress, secure the presidency, and repeal away. Why make life miserable for the rest of us!

    • Disgruntled2012

      Sept. 27, 2013
      5:24 p.m.

      They won’t win elections if they don’t fight Obamacare.

    • tpaine1

      Sept. 27, 2013
      5:37 p.m.

      Sure, that would be the “politically” smart move, but that’s not why we elected them. This is the single largest entitlement (free stuff) that results in the “largest tax increase in history.” It will not stand the test of time and Democrats just don’t don’t seem to “get it.” Get it?

  5. Disgruntled2012

    Sept. 27, 2013
    4:50 p.m.

    John Boehner is actually the one who can win this fight, IF the Republican party can unify.

    The senate has sent back a bill that funds Obamacare. John Boehner and Republicans in the house just need to stand firm.

    The president and the democrats and the media will then do the whole predictable wetting their pants thing, where the complain about the republicans not wanting to pay interest payments on the debt, fund the military, etc. etc.

    John Boehner then points out that the house has already authorized legislation to pay for the entire government, including those programs. But if the president won’t agree to that bill, house republicans will gladly pass a seperate CR funding the exact program they’re complaining about.

    Democrats say the republicans are risking defaulting on the debt.
    Boehner reminds them that we’ve already passed a budget CR that authorizes debt payments, but he’ll be happy to pass a CR bill guaranteeing we meet our obligations on the US debt, and if the senate agrees there is no problem.

    Democrats say the republicans are risking our security by defunding the military?
    Boehner reminds them that we’ve already passed a CR budget that includes the military budget, but he’ll be happy to pass a separate CR bill that
    fully funds the military, and if the senate agrees there is no problem.

    And so on. And so on. To every special interest group; the teachers, the unions, the veterans, the AARP, whatever, for every special interest group that mass emails congress complaining about how a government shutdown will hurt its members, you reply back “We recognize your concerns. We agree that the program you speak of should not be held hostage to a partisan political debate about Obamacare. That is why we passed house resolution YYY, specifically funding that particular program in entirety, regardless of the results of the ongoing debate over the ACA, The house passed bill is currently in the senate, awaiting action. We suggest you contact the Senate Leader’s office for further inquiries.”

    It’s a debate that he just can’t lose, and there is no way that the media can’t cover it. It’s a way to beat the democrats over the head with Obamacare, again and again! Why the so-called ‘experts’ can’t see that is beyond me!

  6. Philip K. Eyrich

    Sept. 27, 2013
    5:17 p.m.

    How can we pass a CR which doesn’t include money for bankrupt city bailouts and White House tour restoration? Obama to bail out bankrupt Detroit while not restoring White House tours! Nancy Pelosi recently said it is not possible to make further cuts in the Federal Budget, and yet there was still money reallocated for Detroit! Corruption! And where are the bailouts for other cities like Stockton and Vallejo? We should not allow a debt ceiling increase when things like this are happening.

  7. tpaine1

    Sept. 27, 2013
    5:34 p.m.

    Thank you Harry Reid and Senate Red State Democrats, you are now TOAST.

    • TexasStomp

      Sept. 27, 2013
      6:09 p.m.

      Not unless we do to them what they do to GOP primaries all the time. Register dem or cross over in opens and vote for the ABSOLUTE WORST DEM CANDIATE ON THE PRIMARY TICKET.

      Hey, it’s a game, right? Team red vs team blue. Time for a new playbook. The MONUMENTALLY STUPID GOP sure won’t. They LIKE pork too. They just want to be able to blame dems for it in every bill.

      Their political funeral.

      I’m more than happy to kick’em when they’re down. Straight out the door back to the pvt sector.

      • tpaine1

        Sept. 27, 2013
        7:06 p.m.

        Precisely, but the “entitlement” thought process has been so ingrained in them, it’s REALLY not worth spending the air. Let’s just agree to dissolve – this time peaceably – as a nation.
        Let Democrats do what they do with no hope of the rest of us bailing them out.

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