Senate advances stopgap spending bill defunding ObamaCare

The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to advance House-passed legislation to defund ObamaCare and keep the government open beyond September.

Senators voted 100 to 0 to end debate on a motion to proceed to the House-passed stopgap, which includes language to prioritize debt payments if Congress fails to raise the debt limit this fall. The vote sets the stage for Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid calls on Democrats to plow forward on immigration Democrats brace for tough election year in Nevada The Memo: Biden's horizon is clouded by doubt MORE (D-Nev.) to offer an amendment to strip the language defunding ObamaCare and prioritizing the debt out of the House measure.

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Republicans said they support advancing the legislation because it would defund the controversial healthcare law.

“Invoking cloture on a bill that defunds ObamaCare, doesn’t raise taxes and respects the Budget Control Act, it strikes me as a no-brainer,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellManchin backs raising debt ceiling with reconciliation if GOP balks Biden needs to be both Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside Billionaire tax gains momentum MORE (Ky.) told reporters.

Conservative Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate confirms four Biden ambassadors after delay Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it MORE (R-Texas), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley — TikTok, Snapchat seek to distance themselves from Facebook Rubio calls for federal investigation into Amazon employee benefits Senate GOP campaign arm outraises Democratic counterpart in September MORE (R-Fla.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeTikTok, Snapchat seek to distance themselves from Facebook Cawthorn, Lee introduce bills banning interstate travel vaccine mandate Retreating economy creates new hurdle for Democrats in 2022 MORE (R-Utah) had urged GOP colleagues to block the bill to prevent Reid from scheduling amendments to eliminate the anti-ObamaCare provisions.

But Cruz voted in favor of the motion to proceed. He said Tuesday night during a 21-hour speech that the real vote on blocking the measure would come after Reid moves to strip language funding ObamaCare from the bill. 

Cruz held the Senate floor for more than 21 hours to protest President Obama’s signature healthcare law and to raise public awareness of Reid’s plans to strip down the House bill.

Reid chastised Cruz for what he called “a big waste of time” and warned it increases the possibility of a stalemate over government funding.

“The government is set to shut down in a matter of hours,” he said.

“It’s a shame we’re standing here having wasted perhaps two days, most of yesterday and a good part of today, when we could pass what we need to pass very quickly and send it back to the House,” he added.

The Senate must vote again on the actual motion to proceed to the stopgap spending measure. After filing his amendments, Reid must schedule another vote to end debate on the bill and set up a final vote. This second cloture vote could happen Friday.