House and Senate leaders pledge there will be no government shutdown, but those leaders failed to make any progress over the weekend to that end.
Despite Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s calls for weekend talks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, those talks never materialized and the entrenched, opposing positions over offsets for disaster relief have not appeared to soften.
The next step in the fight is a cloture vote Monday evening on Reid’s bill that mirrors the House-passed bill -- except it does not include any offsets for the $3.6 billion in disaster relief funding attached to the $1.043 trillion short-term continuing resolution to fund the government through mid-November.
Separating the two bills is about $1.5 billion in offsets included by House Republicans that pointedly target green energy initiatives supported by Democrats. Reid told reporters on Friday that he would accept no offsets for disaster funding. House Republicans maintain that offsets must be included.
McConnell said he has the votes to deny Reid the 60 he will need to move forward on his bill, despite the fact that 10 Republican senators sided with Reid on an earlier, separate vote on disaster relief funding. As a result, Reid’s bill is expected to fail. With neither side yet willing to give on offsets, the government is once again embroiled in a spending fight days before the government will shut down if the CR is not approved.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union that the fight is “embarrassing” for Congress, which is facing historically low approval ratings.
"Can we, once again, inflict on the country and the American people the spectacle of a near government shutdown? I sure as heck hope not," Warner said.
On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., voiced support for the House version of the bill. “I would ask Harry Reid to take it,” he said. The Senate voted down the House version of the bill on Friday, with 59 senators voting against it and 36 voting in favor. If Reid’s bill fails as expected on Monday, it would give some leverage to the House Republican position because the chamber has passed a bill.
The federal government will run out of money on Friday, but a more likely deadline for resolution is Wednesday, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster funding will run dry. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, also begins on Wednesday at sundown.