On the brink

Updated
 
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a House Republican Conference meeting to discuss the ongoing budget fight, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, on Capitol...
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a House Republican Conference meeting to discuss the ongoing budget fight, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, on Capitol...
AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

The volleying continues on Capitol Hill – where dead-end bills have flown back and forth between the House and Senate all day.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid returned John Boehner’s latest serve, voting down a bill that extends government funding for a few weeks in exchange for changes to Obamacare. Reid wants Boehner to pass a “clean” extension with no strings attached.

It’s an unusual display on the Hill, where bills generally take weeks and months to trade chambers – not minutes. But this is no ordinary fight. Each side has dug in in the final hours ahead of a government shutdown. The question: will either side blink?

Boehner’s latest plan didn’t sail through his conference. In fact, a dozen moderates peeled off, leaving Boehner in a weaker position than Reid, who has largely kept his caucus together in the fight.

Reid has seized on the fracture in the party, calling Boehner a slave to the far right of his conference. He challenged Boehner to buck his tea party wing by putting the Senate’s bill up for a vote, where he expects it would pass with a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans.

“Understand we’re dealing with anarchists,” Reid told reporters. “They hate government.”

While no one knows how the funding fight will end, one thing seems certain: Regardless of whether or not there is a government shutdown after midnight, enrollment in Obamacare’s health-care exchanges will begin tomorrow, putting the centerpiece of the law into effect.

On the brink

Updated