Senate approves measure to keep federal government operating

Greg Nash

The Senate voted along party lines Friday to pass a stopgap spending measure lasting until Nov. 15 after removing controversial language to defund ObamaCare.

The 54-44 vote puts the Senate on a collision course with the House, where Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerSanders-Warren ticket would sweep the nation GOP rep. on 'Lucifer' remark: Boehner has ‘said much, much worse’ Dictionary reports spike in 'Lucifer' searches after Boehner remark MORE (R-Ohio) has said the stripped-down bill will not reach the floor.

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House conservatives on Friday rallied around a proposal to attach a one-year delay of the healthcare law and send it back to the Senate. Senate Democrats say this will be rejected and result in a government shutdown.

If Congress does not resolve the impasse by Tuesday, funding will expire and many government services will be limited.

Final passage of the Senate bill was assured after 25 Republicans joined 54 Democrats in voting to end debate on the measure and set up a final vote. Final passage only required a simple majority.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSatanists balk at Cruz comparison Cory Booker is Clinton secret weapon Overnight Energy: Dems block energy spending bill for second day MORE (D-Nev.) pleaded Friday for House Republicans to accept the measure to avoid shuttering government next week.

“I urge sensible Republicans in the House of Representatives to … let House Democrats vote,” he said. “Pass a clean bill to avert a shutdown. Defy the anarchists. Respect the rule of law. And help the Senate govern.”

The legislation funds government operations for 45 days and omits the House-passed language prioritizing debt payments if Congress fails to increase the nation’s borrowing authority.

It continues spending levels at an annualized rate of $986.3 billion, which some Senate Republicans argued would exceed the 2011 Budget Control Act.

The Senate voted to waive a budgetary objection against the bill after proponents of the measure argued that the budget law and the automatic cuts known as sequestration would keep total fiscal year 2014 funding at $967 billion.

The biggest question ahead of the Friday votes was how many Republicans would side with Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzCruz super-PAC punches at Trump over Mike Tyson endorsement GOP rep endorses Trump Kasich lays out qualities he wants in a VP MORE (R-Texas), who earlier in the week compared Republican leaders to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for not working more aggressively to defund ObamaCare.

Cruz urged his colleagues to block the legislation to prevent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) from scheduling a simple-majority vote on an amendment to rewrite it.

Republican leaders, however, said the bill should advance because at the time of the vote to limit debate it included language to defund ObamaCare.

Most Republicans sided with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Finance: House rejects financial adviser rule; Obama rebukes Sanders on big banks Senators roll out changes to criminal justice bill Sanders is most popular senator, according to constituent poll MORE (Ky.), who argued the unified Republican vote against final passage shows the party is firmly committed to repealing the healthcare law.

Republicans grew increasingly frustrated with Cruz as the debate ground on.

Sen. John McCainJohn McCainExperts warn weapons gap is shrinking between US, Russia and China McCain delivers his own foreign policy speech Republicans who vow to never back Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) scolded Cruz for comparing GOP leaders’ tactics in the healthcare fight to Britain’s effort to appease Adolf Hitler.

“I think it’s wrong and I think it’s a disservice to those who stood up and shouted at the top of their lungs that we cannot appease and that we must act,” he said.

Sen. Bob CorkerBob CorkerThe Trail 2016: The establishment comes around GOP warms to Trump Trump vows to expand map for GOP, win Michigan MORE (R-Tenn.) on Thursday rebuked Cruz for delaying the votes until Friday morning, accusing him of playing to the C-SPAN cameras and giving the House less time to respond.

Only 18 Republicans voted with Cruz, including two possible 2016 presidential contenders, Sens. Marco RubioMarco RubioMany Republicans uninterested in being Trump’s VP: report Five ways Trump will attack Clinton Rubio: Trump has 'improved significantly' MORE (Fla.) and Rand PaulRand PaulFive ways Trump will attack Clinton Carter pledges probe of sex assault testimony Rand Paul wants to legalize cooperation MORE (Ky.).

McConnell sought to downplay divisions in his conference by stressing the unified vote against final passage.

“And it all adds up to one thing: a law in trouble. A law that needs to be repealed. That’s the goal of every member on this side. We’re united on the need to repeal ObamaCare. We want to replace it with sensible, bipartisan reforms that will actually work,” he said before the vote.

Conservative groups lobbied senators vigorously throughout the week to block the bill. Tea Party Patriots estimated that Senate offices received as many as 10,000 calls a day.

Activists criticized McConnell and other leaders for not siding with Cruz.

“The determination of conservative heroes like Senators Ted Cruz and Mike LeeMike LeeCruz: Boehner unleashed his ‘inner Trump’ Senate pressured to take up email privacy bill after overwhelming House vote House unanimously passes email privacy bill MORE to wage the fight to defund ObamaCare in the Senate is inspiring,” Brent Bozell, chairman of ForAmerica, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately the Republican ‘leadership’ declined to show the same courage and keep their promises to the American people and allowed Democrats to restore funding for ObamaCare.”

Ramsey Cox contributed to this report.

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