A sense of the absurd spread on the Senate floor as lawmakers voted a second time within hours to reject a House-passed funding stopgap shortly before a midnight deadline to avoid a government shutdown.
Senators defeated the House proposal along party lines, 54-46. There were no defections. The measure would have delayed the individual mandate, a core piece of the Affordable Care Act, and prevented congressional lawmakers and staff from receiving federal subsidies when they enter healthcare exchanges.
“Three and a half hours essentially until the government begins to shut down. Can you believe this?” asked Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiBipartisan friendship is a civil solution to political dysfunction Dems press for paycheck fairness bill on Equal Pay Day After 30 years celebrating women’s history, have we made enough progress? MORE (D-Md.), the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “We are the United States of America. We are a superpower. We’re supposed to be a nation governed by rule of law, and we’re about to shut down.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWeek ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road 'Tuesday Group' turncoats must use recess to regroup on ObamaCare MORE (D-Nev.) invoked Albert Einstein's definition of insanity as performing the same action repeatedly and expecting a different result.
He panned the House-passed legislation for increasing the out-of-pocket healthcare costs of lawmakers and staffers.
“This time the House has attached a poison pill that would punish 16,000 congressional staff,” he said.
Senate Democrats left little doubt before the vote that they would strike the amendments attached to a stopgap bill funding government through Dec. 15.
Reid declared earlier in the day that Senate Democrats would not accept any changes to ObamaCare. He said they would not even negotiate oven the landmark law until after Congress raises the debt ceiling, which is due to expire Oct. 17.
“We are not going to mess around with ObamaCare, no matter what they do,” Reid said.
“They should get a life,” he said of House conservatives. “It is the law, declared constitutional. The exchanges are coming on board tomorrow.”
Democrats voted in unison against delaying the individual mandate after nine House Democrats defected from their leadership earlier in the evening to postpone the controversial penalty.
The new law’s open-enrollment period begins Oct. 1.
Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinTop Trump officials push border wall as government shutdown looms Top Dem: Shutdown over border wall would be 'height of irresponsibility' Sunday shows preview: Trump stares down 100-day mark MORE (D-Ill.) said Republicans are desperate to stop the law before Tuesday to prevent people from learning more about the law’s benefits.
“That’s why Republicans want to stop ObamaCare. They don’t want these exchanges to be announced. They don’t want people to see these options. They know what’s going to happen,” he said.
Senate Democratic leaders renewed their call on Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection MORE (R-Ohio) to put the Senate-passed stopgap up for a vote on the House floor.
“If they call it for a vote, it will pass. They know it.
Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzWeek ahead in tech: Trump's antitrust pick heads before Senate Week ahead: Senate panel to vote on Trump's FDA pick Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road MORE (R-Texas) said Reid would deserve the blame if the government shuts down Tuesday.