A frustrated Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid locked in a time agreement allowing for passage of the stopgap spending measure early Friday afternoon.
"The House is waiting for us to do something, finish this, but we have two senators who won't allow us to do that.We've established that an hour or two ago. That's unfortunate," the Nevada Democrat said when he offered the time agreement.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said Thursday on the Senate floor that only Texas Republican Ted Cruz and Utah Republican Mike Lee were blocking votes tonight.
Cruz spokesman Sean Ruston said in a statement that delaying the vote will make sure "the debate play out in the full light of day so the American people know exactly what is happening. America will be watching closely which senators vote to allow Democrats to fully fund Obamacare, and the vote should be carried out in the open for all to see."
Many Senate Republicans disagree with that description of the vote, saying that they are voting in favor of limiting debate on a measure that would defund the health care law. Procedurally, it will be left to Democrats to provide funding for the implementation with a vote in favor of an amendment offered by Reid and Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., that would strip out defunding provisions and make several other changes, including moving up the end date to Nov. 15.
Cruz and Lee will now get that vote in the middle of the day. As part of the agreement offered by Reid, the entire 30 hours available for debate after the vote for cloture (on the House CR that includes defunding of Obamacare) will be yielded back, setting up a string of four votes.
The ultimate result, after adoption of the amendment, will be passage of a "clean" continuing resolution that maintains funding for the health care overhaul, sending the measure back to the House.