Dems say shutdown is inevitable

The weekend's fierce debate over government spending is certain to conclude with President Obama signing a “clean” government-funding measure into law, Democratic leaders said Saturday night. The question remains when.

“We all know the end of this story. The president's going to sign a clean CR,” Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) said, referring to a continuing resolution to fund the government.

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“We know that it's going to happen, we just don't know when it's going to happen,” Andrews added following a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol.

Andrews, who heads the Democrats' Steering and Policy Committee, forecast that the Republican bill expected to pass through the House late Saturday night would be stripped of the GOP ObamaCare amendments by Senate Democrats and returned to the lower chamber within 48 hours as the same “clean” proposal the Senate passed on Friday. But it won't be done in time to prevent a government shutdown, he predicted.

“Sen. [Harry] Reid can move quite quickly to strike the provisions the House is adding to this bill. And when the Senate reassembles, he will,” Andrews said. “So this is really just a trailer for the movie you're going to see again in a certain number of hours.

“I don't think it's very likely that all of that will happen before midnight on Monday – just the way things work around here,” he added. “In candor … when the clock strikes midnight on Monday the place is shutting down.”

Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, agreed that a shutdown, at this point, appears inevitable. He accused Republican leaders of allowing a minority of conservatives to take control of the conference at the expense of the economy.

‘It looks like it's a case of a very deep and intense family feud within the Republican Party … where the tail is wagging the elephant. And the folks who are going to get hurt are the American people … if basic government services are shut down,” he said. “But that seems to be where we're going.”

Just hours earlier, Republican leaders unveiled their strategy for funding the government beyond Monday, when the fiscal year ends. The plan features two amendments to the Senate-passed bill: One to delay the central parts of Obama's 2010 healthcare law, and another to eliminate a tax on medical devices that's helping to fund the law.

The package was designed to cater to conservatives in the conference, who had opposed an earlier Republican CR that did not tie the extended funding to a scaling back of ObamaCare.

Reid, the Senate majority leader, has already declared an amended bill dead on arrival in the upper chamber. He's expected to scrap the two healthcare amendments on Monday, when the Senate returns, and send the bill back to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), potentially just hours before the Tuesday shutdown.

Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, characterized Boehner Saturday as “a decent man,” but chastised the Speaker for catering to his right-most flank at the brink of a shutdown.

“I can't say anymore that I feel bad for John Boehner,” he said.