Republican Party Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee couldn't gather enough Senate Republican support to couple funding the government with defunding Obamacare. PHOTO: Reuters
Senate Republicans just sent a message that might get lost in the media kerfuffle around the coming government shutdown, but it won’t be ignored by House Republicans: they will not stand with the Tea Party on shutting down the government.
The Senate just had two votes on the Continuing Resolution, a.k.a. the bill that needs to pass by Tuesday to avoid a government shutdown. The first vote was on whether or not to end debate. The second vote was on the bill itself, which does one thing: continues to fund the government. Senate Republicans voted unanimously against the actual bill, but they actually voted in the majority to invoke cloture and allow the bill to go onto the next step. Out of 46 Republicans in the Senate, only 19 voted against ending debate.
The cloture vote required sixty votes to pass, and that was where Republicans could have taken a stand. Senate Republicans, unlike House Republicans, don’t want to be seen as the ones shutting down the government. House Republicans had previously voted to package defunding Obamacare with allowing the government to keep paying its bills. Had Republicans stood united, as they have against Obama’s judicial appointments, cabinet appointments, and well, just about everything else he has tried to do, then Senate Democrats would be stuck trying to negotiate concessions with the Republican Party.
And yet, Senate Republicans chose to vote their conscious: 19 thought that shutting down the government would be worth it to take a stand against Obamacare, but the remaining members of the GOP did not. The Tea Party has total control of House Republicans, who voted unanimously on their bill, but today’s vote showed that it only has half of the Senate (including the three all-but-declared 2016 Presidential candidates, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, all of whom were elected with Tea Party support).
What happens next is that the House Republicans will unanimously spit on the idea of simply funding the government and offer another bill that funds the government attached to an extensive Republican wishlist, which, again, will be a nonstarter in the Senate. House Republicans don’t seem to care if the government shuts down. Senate Republicans declared today that more than half of them do.