House and Senate Democrats Unsettled on CR Strategy

Posted September 23, 2010 at 12:15pm

Tax cuts are not the only issue splitting Congressional Democrats right now: They are also at odds over how to proceed on a continuing resolution to keep the government operating past Sept. 30.

A senior Democratic aide said House Appropriations Chairman David Obey is trying to force the Senate to initiate the CR as part of a power play over a year-end omnibus spending bill.

The House only has one appropriations vehicle in hand it can use to “ping-pong” a bill back and forth with the Senate and therefore avoid Republican procedural tactics on the floor, the aide said, and Obey would rather save it for the year-end spending bill instead of using it on the CR.

“Obey is trying to force the Senate to initiate the CR so that he can control the pen for the omnibus,” the aide said.

But Obey has cited other reasons in meetings with leadership. The Wisconsin Democrat has warned that Senate Republicans, who have the power to block the bill, could strip some of the CR’s provisions and force endangered House Democrats to vote twice to pass the CR.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned House leaders Tuesday that he was not sure he could initiate a CR because it would take too long.

House moderates, meanwhile, simply want the House to pass a CR as soon as possible so they can head home to campaign.

The CR is the only must-pass agenda item before Congress adjourns, although Democratic leaders are wrestling with whether to hold votes on extending the Bush-era tax cuts.