In the face of a GOP filibuster of an omnibus spending bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Thursday that he would drop his efforts to pass it and would instead pursue a short-term continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown.
He also filed a cloture motion Thursday night on a key immigration reform bill, known as the DREAM Act, as well as a bill that would repeal the military’s ban on openly gay service members. The move sets up procedural votes Saturday and final passage Sunday or Monday for the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, which appears to have enough GOP support to pass if cloture is invoked. The DREAM Act, although popular with Democrats and some moderate Republicans, does not appear to have the votes for cloture.
Reid said he would work with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to avoid a government shutdown Saturday night, when the current continuing resolution funding the government expires.
“In reality, we have one choice: pass a short-term CR,” Reid said. The length of the CR is unclear.
Reid sought to shift the blame for giving up on the omnibus to nine Republicans, whom he would not name. He said they backed out of supporting the bill under intense pressure from McConnell and other Republicans.
“Over the last 24 hours they’ve walked away,” Reid said. “A number of Republicans Senators told me they’d like to see this pass, and they’re not going to vote for it.”
McConnell said he was pleased that Reid was backing off the larger spending bill, saying he hoped that lawmakers would “come back here after the holidays with a renewed desire to do our business.”
The defeat could squash Democrats’ hopes of enacting one last spending measure before Republicans take over the House.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.