After coming to agreement on some appointments and bills, the Senate got back to normal.
As expected, Senate Republicans filibustered legislation Thursday to simultaneously keep the federal government open and invest in infrastructure and housing projects — a significant setback for efforts to bridge budget disagreements and avert a shutdown this fall.
The vote was 54 in favor, 43 against, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move forward. The only member to cross party lines was Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who helped write the bill and urged colleagues not to block it — to no avail.
“It has been an open and transparent debate thus far, a return to regular order, something that I have heard virtually everyone here urge us to do,” she said. “Nevertheless, some senators are intent on preventing this legislation from moving forward, despite the fact that this bill is not the final version of the transportation and housing appropriations bill. It is only one step in the process but an essential step.”
The crux of the disagreement is that Republican leaders insist on setting domestic spending at levels ordered by sequestration. Democrats, by contrast, want to replace the automatic, across the board cuts and instead set spending at levels agreed to in the 2011 Budget Control Act before sequestration slashes them further.
This will not end well for the Republicans. Oh, yes, of course you expected me to say that, but even Charles Krauthammer thinks this is nuts, and you know how often I agree with him, which is never.
So Congress is out for six weeks, there will be a lot of town-hall chatter about defunding Obamacare — which won’t happen ever — and when everyone comes back sometime in the middle of September and the end of the fiscal year is looming, the GOP will lead us once again to the brink because cranks like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Louis Gohmert think that what we need is a government shut-down because it worked so well for them in the past. Just ask former President Newt Gingrich.