Politics

All Senate Republicans vow to block any legislation until tax cut extension, government funding bills are passed

Whatever it is, Senate Republicans won’t vote for it until the Bush tax cuts are extended and legislation that funds the government into the next year is passed.

All 42 members of the Senate Republican caucus signed a letter Wednesday to Majority Leader Harry Reid vowing to block all legislation until those two goals are achieved.

“We write to inform you that we will not agree to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers,” the letter read. “With little time left in this Congressional session, legislative scheduling should be focused on these critical priorities.”

The move puts the Democrats’ agenda for the lame-duck session in a tough spot. Reid has voiced support for invoking cloture a number of bills during the term, including two that would grant undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship and repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. There was hope that some of the more moderate members of the Republican caucus would vote for cloture, but the letter slams the door on any hope of that happening unless Democrats capitulate on extending the Bush-era tax cuts.

That all depends, however, on how well Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell can hold his caucus in line. Shortly after the letter was released, a spokesman for Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins suggested that she would vote for cloture on a defense spending bill that included a measure that repeals Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell if ample time were allotted for debates and amendments.

“She has made it clear that if the Majority Leader brings the Defense Authorization bill to the floor, for example, and allows sufficient debate and amendments, she would vote to proceed to the bill,” Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley told The Washington Post.

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