McConnell: No Filibuster on CR; Cruz: That Ensures Obamacare is Funded

By Michael W. Chapman | September 24, 2013 | 3:17pm EDT

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

( – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in opposition to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and other conservatives, said he will not support a filibuster of the continuing resolution (CR) that also defunds Obamacare, and will instead vote for cloture, which will allow the bill to be amended and voted on with a simple 51-vote majority – the Democrats hold 52 seats in the Senate and caucus with 2 independents, giving them a 54-seat majority.

Senator Cruz, who has helped lead the fight in the Senate to defund Obamacare through the CR, said, "Any senator who votes for cloture on this bill is voting to give Harry Reid the authority to fund Obamacare with just 51 votes. I hope and believe Senate Republicans will stand united."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). ( Starr)

Republicans hold 46 seats in the Senate. If the Democrats stay united under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), which is expected, they can amend the CR to strip out the language defunding Obamacare with 51 votes and send the legislation  back to the House of Representatives.

Republican Ted Cruz (Tex.), however, wants to use a Senate rule that would require a supermajority (60 votes) of senators to amend the CR – a procedure often used with contentious legislation – which means Reid would have to win over 6 Republican senators in order to change the CR.

If Reid does not agree to that supermajority rule – and all news reports indicate he does oppose it -- then Cruz wants to filibuster the CR to prevent the Democrats from changing it with a simple 51-vote majority.  But cloture – a vote to end debate on a piece of legislation and move forward – can be invoked with 60 votes.

With 54 Democratic votes and McConnell’s vote, along with a few more GOP votes, cloture will happen.  From there, the Democrat majority in the Senate can amend the CR simply – they have the votes – and send the bill back to the House.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

McConnell on Tuesday explained his decision to vote for cloture saying, “Once we invoke cloture, the focus will then turn to the Senate Democrats the Majority Leader is counting on to amend it. He can only afford to lose four Democrats if he wants to restore funding for Obamacare. So, if five Senate Democrats vote against the Majority Leader, Obamacare will be defunded. That’s a vote we should want to have.”

As for his fellow Republican Cruz’s strategy to filibuster until a 60-vote supermajority is adopted for amending the bill, McConnell said, “I just don’t happen to think filibustering a bill that defunds Obamacare is the best route to defunding Obamacare. All it does is shut down the government and keep Obamacare funded. And none of us want that.”

Senator Cruz said that a cloture vote will ensure that Obamacare is funded, which is what the Democrats and the president want. On the Senate floor on Monday, Cruz said,  "No American wants a government shutdown. I don't want a government shutdown. No one on this side of the aisle wants a government shutdown. The House of Representatives doesn't want a government shutdown. ..."

Cruz continued, "If it is the Majority Leader's intent to fund Obamacare using just 51 votes, then I would submit to every Republican in this body it is our obligation to our constituents to do everything we can to prevent the Majority Leader from funding Obamacare with just 51 votes. Any member of this body that votes for cloture on this bill will be voting to allow the Majority Leader to fund Obamacare on 51 votes. I think that vote's a mistake. I think that vote disserves our constituents. I think that vote hurts the people of America."

The continuing resolution is a stop-gap funding measure to keep the federal government funded into the new fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1. If a CR is not passed and signed into law by that date, the government would shut down.

During a shutdown, which has occurred numerous times in the last few decades, essential services and activities are not interrupted, such as national security, the Armed Forces, air traffic control systems, border patrol, law enforcement, the Postal Service, banking, Social Security checks, and similar operations.

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