11th-Hour Brinkmanship Before Government Shutdown

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J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Storm clouds hang over Capitol Hill on Sept. 27, 2013.

After a day of recriminations and political theater, the House and Senate ended the weekend no closer to a deal to avert a government shutdown, which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, just after the stroke of midnight.

Senate Democrats plan to gavel into session on Monday to reject the latest proposal by House Republicans. The House will then likely have one more opportunity to respond before the government shuts down.

The current House proposal passed on Sunday would keep the government funded at current spending levels until Dec. 15, while delaying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for a year and repealing the medical-device tax that helps fund the health care law. The Senate proposal would keep the government funded at those same levels until Nov. 15, but wouldn’t affect the rollout of Obamacare.

“Tomorrow, the Senate will do exactly what we said we would do and reject these measures,” Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate majority leader Harry Reid, wrote in a public statement on Sunday. “At that point, Republicans will be faced with the same choice they have always faced: put the Senate’s clean funding bill on the floor and let it pass with bipartisan votes, or force a Republican government shutdown.”

Representative Charlie Dent, a Republican from Pennsylvania, has said he would accept the Senate’s “clean” continuing resolution, but only two members of the House Republican conference — New York Representatives Chris Gibson and Richard Hanna — did not vote for their party’s proposal.

Representative Raúl Labrador, a Republican from Idaho, told Meet the Press on Sunday that he would not vote for the Senate’s resolution, but thinks that “there’s enough people in the Republican Party who are willing” to do so to avert the shutdown. “And I think that’s what you’re going to see,” said Labrador.

As the suspense built to a Monday confrontation, Republican Representatives took to the steps of the Capitol on Sunday afternoon to rip into their colleagues across the aisle. “I personally believe that Senator Reid and the President for political purposes want to shut down the government,” said Representative Tim Griffin, a Republican from Arkansas. Clutching a football, Griffin said, “This is the old football strategy. When you get to where you want to be in a football game, you run out the clock.”