House Republicans may have the equivalent of a last-second, game- saving touchdown in their playbook to avoid a shutdown, a top ally to Speaker John Boehner is hinting to Democrats.
With just hours to go before a midnight deadline to keep government funded, Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions has just told frustrated Democrats on that panel to "stay calm," and be ready and available for late-night action as House Republicans try "to play this out."
Sessions, R-Tex., made his comments during a hearing late Monday afternoon.
The Democrats on the panel were pressing him as to why House Republicans were moving to vote later Monday on yet another version of a stop-gap funding bill – tied to other demands they know the Senate will reject and President Obama would veto, anyhow.
This new Republican CR would require a delay in the requirement that individuals pass health insurance, and would scrap health subsidies for the president and administration appointees, as well as for members of Congress and their staff.
"Enough gamesmanship," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., during the hearing. "What you are doing here is moving us closer to a shutdown."
He said this "makes this place seem even worse, if that is possible."
Sessions said the House GOP does plan on taking action Monday night on its new bill. He said the House would debate its new bill for 40 minutes, then there will be two votes, before sending it over to the Senate.
But he then said, "And there's still hours left and we will hope that there is a response (from the Senate) that we can operate off of," adding that he means by that, later Monday night..
"I think there can be an action or a reaction within the Senate, and I have stated that I will keep this committee on alert and that we will be ready and available," said Sessions.
"We are going to work together and we are going to try find something. And sometimes these things do come to the bitter end," he said, going on to offer college football as a parallel.
"Whether it is Florida or Florida State, or Texas and Texas A&M, or Baylor and Texas, it goes to the last play. And sometimes it goes to the last play in real life, and sometimes it does it in the political life…," said Sessions.
"I'm encouraging you. And I'm saying to you we're doing the right thing, we're trying to play this out," Sessions told the Rules Committee Democrat, saying he understood their frustration.
But he said, "As we get closer to midnight then that frustration level, perhaps, will be answered."