Government shutdown looms as Congress battles over continuing resolution to fund government

The Senate and the House have seven days to agree on a plan to fund the government, or the government will shutdown. The clock is ticking.

The continuing resolution currently funding the government expires on September 30, and Republicans and Democrats have found themselves once again at loggerheads over just what a new resolution should look like. The sticking point: Obamacare, which a number of Republicans believe should be defunded in any continuing resolution, a plan most Democrats heartily disapprove of.

On Friday, the House passed a continuing resolution that would fund the government at sequestration levels through December 15 but defund Obamacare. The vote fulfills the desire voiced by several Republican senators — including Utah Sen. Mike Lee, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — to tie defunding the president’s health care law to the overall funding of the government.

“If there is ever a time to defeat Obamacare, it is now,” Cruz said at a July briefing at the Heritage Foundation. “Moreover, we have, I believe, the best opportunity we will have, and possibly the last good opportunity we will have to defund Obamacare with the continuing resolution.”

“If the subsidies kick in, the prospect or full repeal of Obamacare diminish dramatically,” Cruz added.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared any bill that defunded the health care law “dead” on arrival in the Senate, and several Republican senators have acknowledged that fact.

“I don’t think the president will sign any legislation to defund Obamacare, and neither will the Senate pass any legislation to defund Obamacare,” said Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, saying that Republicans lacked both unity and the will to go over the edge.

“President Obama and the Democrats know Republicans won’t go through the deadline, he knows we’re just not serious, so he has the upper hand,” Paul said.

Even Cruz has acknowledged passing a continuing resolution defunding Obamacare in the Senate is unlikely.

“Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so,” Cruz said in a statement Wednesday, after House leadership announced its intention to vote on the plan. He drew a significant amount of flack from House Republicans for that statement, many of whom felt he was unwilling to put his money where his mouth was, and the next day, Cruz, possibly to show that that was not the case, resolved to do “everything necessary and anything possible to defund Obamacare,” including filibustering.

But a number of Senate Republicans have already come out against the idea. North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr told The Huffington Post: “I said it was the dumbest idea I’d ever heard of. I still think it’s a dumb idea, because you can’t defund Obamacare.”