Some encouraging news breaking tonight: Senate Republicans forced a delay on consideration of the $410 billion omni-pork spending bill. Harry Reid canceled the vote after confessing that he was one vote short of the 60 needed to shut off debate and move forward.
A Hill friend says Reid had to walk out 20 minutes after the scheduled vote and end the quorum call because he couldn’t close the cloture deal.
Senate Republicans, demanding the right to try to change a huge spending bill, forced Democrats on Thursday night to put off a final vote on the measure until next week. The surprise development will force Congress to pass a stopgap funding bill to avoid a partial shutdown of the government.
Republicans have blasted the $410 billion measure as too costly. But the reason for GOP unity in advance of a key procedural vote was that Democrats had not allowed them enough opportunities to offer amendments.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., canceled the vote, saying he was one vote short of the 60 needed to close debate and free the bill for President Barack Obama’s signature.
Democrats and their allies control 58 seats, though at least a handful of Democrats oppose the measure over its cost or changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba. That meant Democrats needed five or six Republican votes to advance the bill.
None of the GOP’s amendments is expected to pass, but votes on perhaps a dozen are now slated for Monday night, Reid said.
The huge, 1,132-page spending bill awards big increases to domestic programs and is stuffed with pet projects sought by lawmakers in both parties. The measure has an extraordinary reach, wrapping together nine spending bills to fund the annual operating budgets of every Cabinet department except for Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.
Once considered a relatively bipartisan measure, the measure has come under attack from Republicans — and a handful of Democrats — who say it is bloated and filled with wasteful, pork-barrel projects.
The Obamedia AP sticks in its editorial comment: “But the reason for GOP unity in advance of a key procedural vote was that Democrats had not allowed them enough opportunities to offer amendments.”
Of course, many GOP amendments aim to cut the pork. At least the piece acknowledges that a rising number of liberal and moderate Democrats have risen to oppose the bill as well.
The delay buys time not just for lawmakers, but for constituents to mobilize and make their voices heard.
Tea Party people, activate! Time to melt the phones — not just of Republicans, but of those liberal and moderate Democrats on the fence.
There is a faint, but promising, scent of blood in the water.