WASHINGTON – Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) indicated that Senate Democrats could “probably accept” a budget that extends “into Christmas” but declared that Democrats are “not doing anything into next year,” setting the stage for a possible government shutdown.
“We’re heading straight for another unnecessary government shutdown because I had the good fortune yesterday to spent some time along with President Obama and everyone should be alerted today to this: We are not going to agree to a long-term CR,” Reid said on a conference call last week with Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). “We are not doing anything into next year. The Republicans should be made aware of that right now.”
The Republican-led Senate has to pass a continuing resolution (CR) before Oct. 1 to avoid a government shutdown. Many Senate Republicans have signaled that they prefer passing a continuing resolution that extends into FY2017 when the next president takes office. Congress returned to Washington from the August recess on Tuesday.
“We have a long, long to-do list. First on that list is funding the federal government,” Reid said, as well as combating the Zika virus and trying to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.
“We as a minority were cooperative. We did everything we could to help. The Senate is being run into the ground,” he added.
Reid called the Senate Republicans’ refusal to hold hearings on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland one of the “biggest political debacles” in the history of the United States.
“He is unfit to be president [Donald Trump]. Senate Republicans’ leadership, especially, are continuing to hold the Supreme Court open for him. Those that are not in leadership are just falling like a little puppy after its mother,” he said. “September is the last shot McConnell and the Senate Republicans have to end their unprecedented obstruction and right a historic wrong and we are not going to walk away from this.”
Reid was asked if he has had any contact with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) or his office about the Democrats’ position on the CR.
“I haven’t talked to Senator McConnell but our staff has been in touch,” he said.
Reid said McConnell wants to first hold a vote on the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 – legislation Reid called important since it provides “real funding” for the Flint, Mich., water crisis.
“We’re not going to move to bat unless we have a path forward on some other stuff. I’m happy to do that,” he said. “We can’t do that and leave all the other stuff hanging.”
Schumer told reporters that Senate Republicans should take up a bill that prevents suspected terrorists from being able to purchase firearms.“Even after the attack in Orlando, the attack in San Bernardino and with ISIS still intent on carrying out attacks against the West, Senate Republicans choose to stand with the NRA instead of the American people,” he said. “Senate Republicans also haven’t lifted a finger to address the rising cost of college and the crushing student debt load that is hurting families across the country – holding down our economy.”
Schumer also called on the Republican-led Senate to move forward on the We The People Act to get “dark money” out of the political process.
“It would shine a light on dark money in politics and ensure that Congress listens to the people instead of special interests. Republicans put that bill in a drawer and left it there and went right along doing the bidding of the Koch brothers on issue after issue,” he said.