House Republicans on Wednesday night succeeded in passing three measures to reopen various parts of the government, following a failure to approve them on Tuesday.
GOP lawmakers also voted to override, 230-194, a Democratic attempt to force a vote on a "clean" short-term continuing resolution that would have put moderate Republicans on the record — and potentially would have proved that there were enough votes for a policy-rider-free CR to pass the chamber.
"You know if we had the vote tonight, it would pass," shouted House Budget Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen in opposition to the ruling that the Maryland Democrat's motion to recommit was out of order because it was not germane.
Though the bill to cover operations in the District of Columbia passed by voice vote, votes on a bill to fund the National Institutes of Health and one to fund national parks, monuments and museums fell mostly along party lines, passing 254-171 and 252-173, respectively.
On the national parks bill, Rep. Don Young of Alaska was the only Republican to vote against the measure, while 23 Democrats voted for it.
But Senate Democrats have indicated those proposals will not pass the upper chamber. House and Senate Democrats have been united around the idea that the House GOP's mini-CR strategy is no substitute for a "clean" CR to fund the whole government, which has been shuttered since Tuesday.
Republicans, however, hope passage of the NIH and national parks bills will force Democrats to go on record against funding popular government programs.
Republicans were particularly aggressive on Wednesday in reinforcing that narrative after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was asked by a CNN reporter, "If you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn't you do it?"
"Why would we want to do that?" Reid replied, in an attempt to make the point that all government programs were important. He later clarified in an interview with radio host Bill Press that, "the whole answer is this: Why would we want to have the House of Representatives, John Boehner, cherry-pick what stays open and what should be closed.”
Still, Republicans pounced.
"It's disgraceful for Sen. Reid to deny cancer patients ... just because he wants to score some political points," said Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise of Louisiana on the House floor Wednesday afternoon. "It's not too late for the Senate majority leader to have a change of heart."
"Stop holding people hostage," Scalise said, reclaiming a talking point of Democrats.
Earlier on Wednesday, Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the House's third-highest-ranking Democrat, said at a press conference that "kids with cancer" should not be used as "pawns" by the GOP.