WASHINGTON — If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gets his way, Republicans will get no concessions in exchange for continuing to fund the government past Monday and raising the debt ceiling in mid-October.
Reid doubled down on his promise not to negotiate on either subject in a press conference Thursday, saying: “We’re not going to play their game.”
The government will shut down on Tuesday if the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate cannot reach an agreement to continue funding it. The sticking point is Obamacare, which gets defunded in the government funding bill passed by the House.
The Senate intends to strip out that provision, and send it back to the House, by which point, as a result of Senate rules, Republicans will have precious little time to agree to it or send back a counter offer.
Reid said the Senate would pass a government funding bill that had no other provisions attached, period.
“We want a clean [government funding bill]. That’s what we’re gonna get,” Reid said.
Reid said he had not spoken to Speaker of the House John Boehner on the subject and that there was no need for him to do so.
“Send us a clean [funding bill], clean debt ceiling, that’s the path forward. There’s no need for conversations. We’ve spoken loudly clearly, and we have the support of the President of the United States,” Reid said.
He added that even if the House were to send back the government funding bill with an attachment that repealed the medical device tax, something that both Democrats and Republicans dislike — Reid referred to it as “that stupid tax” in the press conference — that the Senate would not agree to the bill, saying that was an issue that should be tackled in separate legislation, when the government was not on the verge of a shutdown.
“Senator Reid thinks the idea of attaching the medical device tax repeal to the CR or the debt ceiling is ‘stupid,’” a Reid spokesman clarified in a statement later. “Senator Reid supports the medical device tax, and his position is clear from his record: he voted for the medical device tax in the Affordable Care Act and against repealing it during the budget debate earlier this year. His position has not changed, and the Senate will reject any CR that includes a repeal of the medical device tax. If the House wants to avoid a Republican government shutdown, they should pass a clean CR. Period.”
New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said that if the House did not agree to that plan moving forward, it would be responsible for a government shutdown.
“If they at this late hour send us a [funding bill] that’s not clean, they are shutting the government down. There’s virtually no way that we can undo that in time for a government shutdown,” he told reporters after the press conference.
On the debt ceiling, Reid gave a flat “no” when asked if he would be willing to consider any of the possible things Republicans were asking for in exchange for voting to raise the debt ceiling, like a go-ahead for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Even if Republicans offered to lift the sequester cuts for a period, Reid said there would be no debate, “as much as we dislike the senseless sequestration, we despise it, is is senseless.”