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The Senate could be headed for a 1 a.m. Wednesday procedural vote on the House-passed continuing resolution to fund the government through Sept. 30, as Democrats and Republicans continue to spar over federal spending.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters Tuesday that Democrats were eager to vote on the House Republican CR, which would cut $61 billion from current spending levels. The Nevada Democrat said it would highlight the GOP’s reckless disregard for job creation and signaled that its certain defeat would pave the way for negotiations on a compromise.
Reid confirmed that the vote would be held early Wednesday morning, the soonest allowable under the rules, unless the Republicans dropped their objection to holding it earlier. Moving to an up-or-down vote on passage of the CR would require the procedural vote to garner 60 votes in favor. Such an outcome is not expected. A vote also is expected at some point on a Democratic alternative to the House-passed CR.
“The Republicans are so desperate to satisfy this really narrow base that they have, they’re willing to sacrifice American jobs just for them,” Reid said. “They’re destroying jobs.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell countered that the government was running a historic deficit and that the spending that led to that shortfall had not measurably reduced unemployment that stood at 8.9 percent at the end of February.
“If government spending would stimulate the economy, we’d be in the middle of a boom,” the Kentucky Republican said. “We’ve added $3 trillion to the debt in the last two years, we spent almost $1 trillion on a stimulus package. If government spending was going to fix this economy and create jobs, we’d be in the middle of a boom.”
In addition to hammering Senate Democrats on government spending, the Republicans attacked President Barack Obama for what they deemed a failure to lead on both the federal budget and a recent escalation in gas prices.
“The question we have on the federal debt is, where’s the president of the United States?” Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) said.
“The average price of gasoline is north of $3.50,” added National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas). “And, this is an area where the president has simply failed to lead on national energy policy, which threatens our fragile economic recovery.”
Meanwhile, Reid said that he was opposed to another shorter-term CR that would kick in March 18, when the current two-week CR expires, to allow more time for House Republicans and Senate Democrats to negotiate a compromise on a CR that would fund the government through the end of fiscal 2011. House Republicans revealed earlier Tuesday that they are writing such a bill in case it is needed to avert a government shutdown.