Reid rejects House Republicans' offer to appoint funding conferees (Video)

Senate Democratic leaders shortly before midnight rejected a House Republican request to appoint conferees to negotiate a short-term government funding bill.

The move made it all but certain there would be a government shutdown after midnight.

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“We will not go to conference with a gun to our head,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the Senate floor. 

“The first thing that the House has to do is pass a clean six-week [continuing resolution]. They have that before them,” Reid said. “If they do that, then we’ll agree to work with Republicans on funding for the government for the remainder of the fiscal year.”

Less then two hours later, the House voted to go to conference, and House Republicans named conferees. 

They are Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.), Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (Ky.), Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (Mich.), and Reps. John Carter (Texas), Ander Crenshaw (Fla.), Rodney Frelinghuysen (N.J.) and Tom Graves (Ga.).

The Senate adjourned at 12:18 a.m. with plans to come back into session at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, when U.S. financial markets are scheduled to open. The Japanese Nikkei index plunged about 160 points in the hour before the shutdown deadline but climbed back some in the following hour.

Reid said if House Republicans agree to extend government funding until Nov. 15, Senate Democrats would negotiate about funding for the rest of fiscal 2014.

Reid called the proposal to negotiate an hour before the midnight deadline when government funding expires a “subterfuge to satisfy the Tea Party-driven Republicans.”

He argued there was no reason for Senate Democrats to begin negotiations only an hour before funding expired because there would be little prospect of reaching a deal in time.

He said the better course is for Republicans to accept the Senate-passed stopgap, which lasts until Nov. 15.

Senate Democratic leaders showed little hope of averting a shutdown, speaking about it as a fait accompli.

As the upper chamber adjourned, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the third-ranking Senate Democrat, said the only way to keep government agencies operating at full strength Tuesday would be if the House approved the Senate-passed stopgap.

“The only way to keep the government open would be for the House to pass the resolution that we’ve already sent them. Is that correct?” he asked on the Senate floor.

“That’s right,” Reid replied.

He said tourists would not be able to visit the Red Rock Canyon national conservation area outside Las Vegas Tuesday.

“Not tomorrow. No, the Republicans are shutting down places like that all over America because they don’t believe in government, and tomorrow will be a bad day for government,” he said.

A senior Senate Republican aide said Reid rejected “yet another opportunity to find a solution.”

Reid said Thursday that he had not had a single conversation with Boehner in recent days.

“There’s no need for conversations," he told reporters.

The Washington Post reported last week that Reid urged President Obama not to set up a meeting with congressional leaders to discuss the impasse over government funding.

Senate Democrats said Monday they made a significant concession to House Republicans by agreeing to the funding levels the lower chamber set for the stopgap, which many liberals opposed.

Reid noted on the floor Monday night that Democrats repeatedly sought to set up conference negotiations over the budget for fiscal 2014, only to be blocked every time by Senate Republicans.

Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said the GOP offer was “the latest absurd and desperate attempt by Speaker Boehner to delay the inevitable — bringing a clean continuing resolution to the floor.”

She said Republicans blocked 18 efforts to go to conference on the budget.

Some Senate Democratic aides said earlier in the evening that it appeared House Republicans were preparing to cave in and accept the Senate-passed stopgap. 

— Updated at 1:31 a.m.

— Pete Kasperowicz contributed to this story.