At least one Democratic leader doesn’t believe Congress will shut down the government over Obamacare.
Last week’s GOP-led House budget bill included a provision that strips the president’s health care plan of funding–a move that will never be accepted by the Democrat-controlled Senate, setting up the potential for a government shutdown.
It’s a game that’s been played far too often in Congress, with other showdowns bringing the chambers to the brink over raising the debt ceiling and other spending fights. But Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said on Monday’s The Daily Rundown that he still believes a solution will be reached before next Monday’s budget deadline, with even Republicans now fuming over the hardline tactics of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and others who want Obamacare implementation stopped at any cost.
“I think it’s very likely we will avoid a shut down,” said Schumer, the vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. “It’s becoming clearer and clearer that Ted Cruz has climbed out on a limb and it is getting sawed off, and he’s just trying to figure out a graceful way out. The vast majority of people and most Republicans thought this was a bad strategy, but it was pushed by a very powerful, small, hard right group and I think it got too far ahead of them.”
Schumer said that pressuring the House to strip Obamacare funding, set to go into effect on October 1, was “the one place where Cruz and his small little band have some weight,” and they might be able to use Senate procedure to delay any new bill until Sunday, but not any later.
Cruz has raised the specter of filibustering the bill, and has urged his fellow GOP senators not to vote to end debate on the bill, knowing that Democrats would restore any health care funds after the vote.
“Senate Republicans have the tool that we always used when the majority leader is abusing his power, which is we can defy cloture. We can filibuster and say we will not allow you to add the funding back for Obamacare with just 51 votes,” Cruz said on Fox News Sunday.
While delays into the weekend put them up against a close deadline, Schumer said conversations are, and would continue, going on behind the scenes for alternative proposals, even though other fights, including raising the debt ceiling, loom ahead for Congress.
“Everyone is going to know what’s happening and the inevitable outcome,” said Schumer. “You don’t have to wait until the day the final bill passes the Senate to start negotiating.”
Watch host Chuck Todd’s full conversation with Schumer in the above video.