As promised, the Senate voted to reject the House's request for conference. Now, the GOP-led House is looking to fund the government in a piecemeal fashion.
The Senate voted Tuesday along party lines in a 54-46 vote to reject the House's request for conference, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said would happen last night after the government shutdown.
As a result, the House is reportedly looking to reopen the government in a piecemeal manner by passing small continuing resolutions (C.R.) to address some of the now-shuttered programs and agencies. The House is looking to pass C.R.s that would fund the Department of Veteran's Affairs, the National Parks Service and operations for the District of Columbia.
“President Obama and Senator Harry Reid would rather shut down the government than engage in talks to end special treatment for the well connected under ObamaCare. Closed parks and delayed veterans benefits can be easily remedied and allow us to remain focused on forcing the Senate to finally come to the table and talk with us,” a House GOP leadership aide said about the strategy, according to The Hill.
The measures will need a two-thirds majority to pass the C.R.s, which will make their way through the floor due to a suspension of the rules. As a result, both Democrats and moderate Republicans will have to get behind the plan to fund the government in a piecemeal fashion in order for the House GOP leadership's latest plan to work.
“There’s no harm in doing that. It keeps the pressure on, but the big picture is we have to get a clean CR,” U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told The Hill. “It’s not my strategy.”
But it does appear to be the strategy of U.S. Rep. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has been advocating for a government shutdown for several weeks and told reporters Tuesday that the government could be reopened little by little if a shutdown were to take place.
“We should fund national parks and keep them open right now, today,” Cruz told reporters Tuesday. “And we saw yesterday, that can happen quickly. It doesn’t take weeks or even days, within hours, if Congress wants to, we can fund every single one of the priorities the president laid out yesterday, we can fund clean CRs if Harry Reid and the Democrats don’t object. That is what I hope we will do.”
So who is in charge here? Tea Party Republicans or House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)? Remember, Boehner originally wanted to keep the funding of the government separate from the defunding of Obamacare, but then switched gears under Tea Party pressure and sent the Senate four C.R.s that demanded the defunding or delay of the Affordable Care Act in exchange for funding the government.
Although it appears that Boehner is now following the orders of Tea Partiers in lockstep, the Speaker blamed President Obama and the Senate for the government shutdown in an editorial published this afternoon. Despite his party's refusal to go into a budget conference with the Senate for the last six months, Boehner is now regurgitating the Tea Party mantra of 'blame Obamacare for everything', using that as the reason why the upper chamber refuses to acquiesce to their 11th-hour request to meet. In Boehner's world, everyone should just push aside the 18 instances in which the House opted not to go into a budget conference with the Senate since last April.
"The president isn't telling the whole story when it comes to the government shutdown. The fact is that Washington Democrats have slammed the door on reopening the government by refusing to engage in bipartisan talks," Boehner's editorial reads. "And, as stories across the country highlight the devastating impact of Obamacare on families and small businesses, they continue to reject our calls for fairness for all Americans. This is part of a larger pattern: the president's scorched-Earth policy of refusing to negotiate in bipartisan way on his health care law, current government funding, or the debt limit."
This may just be a preview of what's to come as the deadline to address the debt ceiling nears. The Speaker appears to already be making a case for why a compromise may not be possible during those talks, which would lead to the government defaulting on its bills.
"In just a few weeks, Congress must act to raise the debt limit to pay the tab for President Obama and Washington's out-of-control spending," Boehner wrote. "There is no way Congress can or should pass such a bill without spending cuts and reforms to deal with the debt and deficit and help get our economy moving again. But President Obama refuses to even talk about negotiating such a bipartisan agreement."
Right now, the House has begun discussion on the C.R.s to reopen certain factions of the government. It remains to be seen, however, if the plan to open just a few parts of government, and consequentially look good in the eyes of some of those directly affected by the government's closure, will work. Earlier today, a group of close to 100 WW2 vets from Mississippi stormed their D.C. memorial, going through the barricades to get in to see site despite its closure due to the government shutdown. Ironically, two Republican House members Michelle Bachmann (MN) and Steve King (IA) assisted the steadfast senior veterans in getting past the barricades meant to shutter the memorial, which their refusal to vote on a clean C.R. caused.
UPDATE (10/2/13 1:30 p.m.): The attempt to piecemeal funding of the government failed Tuesday night, but the House will make another go at it Wednesday, adding two more agencies to the mix. Click through for more on the latest and see what arms of the government House Republicans are looking to reopen.