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September 29, 2013

Next move in budget battle is up to the Senate, and Democrats are pessmistic

     The next move in the budget shutdown crisis is up to the Senate.  It is expected to reject the House’s Sunday action, which will then send the budget—with no delay in health care or any of the other add-ons—back to the House.

        It’s going to be rejected again and we’re going to face the prospect of shutting down, again," Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin, D-Ill., told CBS' "Face the Nation."

    Asked if he thought a shutdown was likely, Durbin said,  “I’m afraid I do,” after watching the House debate and vote early Sunday. The House voted to fund the government through November 15, delay implementing Obamacare for a year and repealing the 2.3 percent medical device tax.

    Here's where things stand at the moment:

    --The Senate passed a measure Friday to keep the government running through November 15. It
got no Republican support.

     --The House Sunday amended the Senate plan with its Obamacare and tax plan. It also extended
government funding through December 15, and added the “conscience clause,” which says employers can deny women contraception coverage.

      --The House and Senate are both in recess Sunday.

       --When the Senate returns Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to try to “table,”
or basically kill, the House plan. That would need 51 votes, which should be easy to get in the Senate, where Democrats control 54 seats.

         If as expected the measure is tabled, the budget bill would go back to the House without the changes it approved Sunday—“clean,” in legislative terms. The House would then be pressured to reconsider the Senate plan, that is, the one without its changes. If the House agrees before midnight, the government stays open. If not, the government shuts down until a compromise can be found.

        There appeared Sunday to be little appetite for compromise. Partisans flooded the Sunday talk
shows, reiterating long-held talking points.

        Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who led a 21 hour, 19 minute talkathon last week trying to stop
Obamacare funding, blamed Reid for being stubborn and refusing to compromise.

     “So far Majority Leader Harry Reid has essentially told the House of Representatives and the
American people, go jump in a lake,” Cruz told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”  “He said, I'm not willing to compromise; I'm not willing to even talk. His position is 100 percent of Obamacar  must be funded in all instances, and other than that, he's going to shut the government down .”

       Democrats keep repeating that Republicans are eager to shut down the government; Republicans
vigorously dispute that notion.

       “Americans do not want a government shutdown and they do not want Obamacare,” Senate
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday.

       “The House has twice now voted to keep the government open. And if we have a shutdown, it will only be because when the Senate comes back, Harry Reid says, I refuse even to
talk,” Cruz said.

       Democrats tried to paint themselves as paragons of reason. Durbin talked about the Republican “shutdown strategy” and other Democrats echoed that thought.



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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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