Senate’s Durbin Expects Government Shutdown After House Vote

U.S. Capitol Rotunda
A statue of George Washington stands in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. The U.S. government stands poised for its first partial shutdown in 17 years at midnight tonight. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, said he thinks there will be a government shutdown.

“I predict the Senate is going to reject this House overture that was sent to us last night,” Durbin said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Durbin said the only way to avoid a government shutdown is for the House to pass a “clean” bill extending funding “to keep the government in business and not hurt the economy.”

As the government heads toward a partial shutdown for the first time in 17 years, lawmakers aired their views on the Sunday morning talk shows. Congress is deadlocked over Republicans’ insistence on delaying the 2010 health-care law.

The House voted 231-192 just after midnight today to stop many of the Affordable Care Act’s central provisions for one year and tie that to an extension of government funding through Dec. 15. Senate Democrats said they will reject the plan, and President Barack Obama said he would veto it.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “should call the Senate back in today” to deal with the legislation, said Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, who last week spoke on the Senate floor for more than 21 hours to protest the health care law that has become known as Obamacare. Cruz spoke today on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Reid, in effect, told the American people to “go jump in a lake” and is forcing the government into a shutdown, said Cruz. “I hope he backs away from that ledge.”

Senate Return Urged

Senator John Cornyn, another Texas Republican, also urged Reid to bring the Senate back into session today.

“In less than 48 hours, our government will shut down,” Cornyn said in an e-mailed statement. “Instead of taking a day off, Majority Leader Reid should call Senators back to Washington and pass the common sense legislation to delay Obamacare.”

Democrats know that a government shutdown would be “a loser for” Republicans, said Representative Raul Labrador, a Republican from Idaho, on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Washington Republican, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Democrats in the Senate, not House Republicans, were pushing the country to the brink.

“They’re the ones truly threatening a government shutdown,” she said. Rodgers said a delay in the health care law was necessary because “the wheels are falling off” the program.

On the same show, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, a Democrat, said that Rodgers’s statements showed that Republicans are afraid that the health care law will be a success.

“They realize that once this goes into effect, people are going to like it,” Dean said.

‘Speaker Cruz’

Representative Chris Van Hollen said today on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Representative John Boehner, Speaker of the House, had essentially handed his gavel to Cruz.

It’s “Speaker Cruz,” the Maryland Democrat said.

Former President Bill Clinton, whose Democratic administration was the last to experience a partial government shutdown in 1996, said he wouldn’t negotiate with Republicans on the eve of another shutdown.

“I think there are times when you have to call people’s bluff,” Clinton said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.” Republican tactics to undermine the 2010 health-care law seem “almost spiteful,” he said.

Clinton recalled some “extremely minor” negotiations during his administration’s partial closures and said that, in this case, there isn’t an opportunity for real talks.

Republican Medicine

“The current price of stopping it is higher than the price of letting the Republicans do it and taking their medicine,” Clinton said. “If they’re going to change the way the Constitution works and fundamentally alter the character of our country and damage the future of a lot of kids, you just have to say no.”

Representative Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, the majority whip in the House, said House Republicans would have time to answer a rejection from the Senate with an alternative bill.

“We will not shut the government down,” McCarthy said today on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I think the House will get back together in enough time, send another provision, not to shut the government down but to fund it, and it will have a few other options in there for the Senate to look at again,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said any subsequent House bill would still have “fundamental” Obamacare changes in it.

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