With time and money running out, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) called on her colleagues to pass a clean funding bill now to prevent a government shutdown on Oct. 1 and save their broader policy disagreements for a later time.
By the time the Senate is finished working out its spending bill, Murray says the House may have just a matter of hours to take action before the deadline. Right now, the bill is in the Senate where Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to introduce his version of the legislation by Thursday, stripping away House language that defunds health reform and shortening the original funding timetable from 10 weeks (Oct. 1-Dec. 15) to just 6 weeks (Oct. 1-Nov. 15).
Murray said on Wednesday’s The Daily Rundown that the shorter timetable will help get Congress focused on the budget more quickly.
“There’s a lot of agreement that we need to replace sequestration with smarter cuts and a better policy,” said Murray. “So we’ve got to figure a way to do that responsibly sooner rather than later.”
Murray, who also serves as the secretary of the Democratic conference, said government funding should not be held up because of discussions that belong in what she called “the greater budget debate.”
“This bill is simply a clean resolution to allow our government to function. It is not a place where we should be negotiating a bunch of other deals–some agreeable, some not agreeable,” said the Democratic senator. “Let’s get this done and then we can have a debate about all the other issues and put it in our budget which is what we should be focusing on.”
At the same time, Murray admitted the timeline for getting a spending bill done is very tight.
“I expect that we will, by Sunday, have a bill back to the House–a clean C.R.–and that’s what we need do. They can pass it and we can get to the bigger debate,” she added.
If the Senate holds to that timetable, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Republicans would have just one day to either agree to Reid’s bill or try to defund health care reform a second time and essentially guarantee a government shutdown.