Senate passes continuing resolution, but keeps funding for Obamacare

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, September 27, 2013

The United States Senate voted Friday to pass a continuing resolution that would keep the federal government funded through Nov. 15, but also stripped it of a provision defunding the Affordable Care Act.

The 54-44 vote, which fell along party lines, puts Congress’ two chambers at odds and brings the nation one step closer to its first federal government shutdown in 18 years. If the two chambers do not pass the same continuing resolution by Monday evening, hundreds of thousands of non-essential government employees will furloughed or forced to work without pay, national parks will be closed and many government services will be limited.

Last week, the House voted 230-189 on a continuing resolution that would keep the government funded at sequestration levels and remove funding for the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), which is set to begin on Jan. 1. In anticipation of the Senate’s vote, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced Thursday that he doesn’t see the House accepting a continuing resolution from the Democrat-controlled Senate that includes funding for Obamacare before Monday.

The Senate began voting on the resolution shortly after 12:30pm eastern Friday, when the chamber voted for cloture on the resolution. A total of three votes were made: the first to end debate on the resolution, the second to strip the CR of the Obamacare language and the last on final passage of the resolution. Nineteen Republican senators – including Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah – broke with the party on the cloture vote.  A 20th, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, had previously announced he would have voted against cloture but was absent from the vote to attend his son’s wedding.

The Senate’s bill would also keep the government running at sequestration levels, however it does not include the House-passed language to prioritize debt payments if Congress failed to increase the nation’s borrowing authority.

Several Republican senators released statements shortly after the vote expressing their dismay in the CR’s passage:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas): ”Today, far too many Republicans joined Harry Reid in giving the Democrats the ability to fund Obamacare. When the bill comes back to the Senate, when the House yet again stands for principle and fights for the American people, I very much hope that Senate Republicans will rise to the challenge. We are stronger when we are united, and we can defeat Obamacare only if Senate Republicans come together, stand with House Republicans, and champion the millions of Americans being harmed by this disastrous healthcare law.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “Today, we had an important opportunity to stand with America’s working class and defund ObamaCare before it continues to hurt people even more. That did not happen. I will continue to fight to stop ObamaCare in its entirety and replace it with an alternative that truly gives Americans more affordable high-quality health care options without hurting their jobs, incomes and current health plans they are happy with.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.): “I remain hopeful that Congress will avoid a government shutdown. I will continue working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress to find a responsible solution.”

The House is scheduled to discuss the Senate’s bill Saturday, however, according to The Washington Post,House leaders haven’t given any indication about how they will go about considering the Senate’s bill.

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