Lee, Cruz slow down vote on stopgap

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tried to speed up the voting process on a continued spending resolution Thursday, but Republicans objected.

"This is an effort to stall, and I don’t know why," Reid said. "It is absolutely unfortunate because, I repeat, every minute that goes by is a minute closer to a government shutdown."

Reid asked for unanimous consent to hold votes starting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, but Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) objected. Every senator has to agree in order to accelerate votes.

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"It is as obvious to me as it is to a kindergarten student, they don’t want to vote," Reid said. "This is a big, big charade. … They want to stop ObamaCare." 

A procedural vote to end debate on H.J.Res. 59 — the House spending measure that funds the government through mid-December but defunds ObamaCare — is scheduled for Friday morning.

The government will shut down Oct. 1 if Congress doesn't approve some form of government-funding measure.

Sens. Lee and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have said they oppose moving forward with the legislation because Reid has introduced an amendment that would restore the funding for ObamaCare.

Reid's amendment would also reduce the time the measure funds the government by a month to keep the pressure on Congress to act. The amendment also removes House language that prioritizes federal spending in the event of the government defaulting later this fall.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) spoke out in opposition to Lee and Cruz's objection, saying he wanted to make sure people knew it wasn't the whole Republican Party holding up the vote, just those two senators.

"It's not the entire Republican side," Corker said. "I know all Republicans other than two would actually like to give the House the opportunity to respond in an appropriate way."

The Senate is expected to send the funding bill back to the House this weekend. The House would then have to accept the Senate changes or risk a government shutdown as time runs out.

Reid said he wanted to speed things up because Republican House leaders have made it clear that they will amend the Senate-version and send it back to the upper chamber.