Senate Sends CR Back to House; House Will Ask for Conference to Work This Out

Reporters check their smartphones while waiting outside Rep. John Boehner’s office on September 30, 2013 as the impending government shutdown looms.

Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

The House’s third attempt at a CR died in the Senate, earning exactly zero Republican votes. Republican campaign committees responded, predictably, by announcing that Democrats in red states (and, for some reason, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen) had just signed their political death warrant. Republicans leaving the vote just sounded exhausted.

“From my standpoint, I think the House has gotten enough advice from senators,” said Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a member of the 2010 Tea Party class.

“Obamacare is not popular, but we’ve managed to find the one thing that’s less popular than Obamacare,” said Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who was once bounced from his House committee for defying leadership on spending. “That’s shutting down the government. Quite an achievement!”


The House Republicans took a while to respond. Shortly before 11 p.m., the Washington Post reported that the House was essentially giving up. This perplexed the actual House Republicans, who were at that point moving a new amendment through the Rules Committee—one that would bring back the CR they just passed, but add instructions to go to a conference committee.


This was even more confusing to the Democrats. For nearly six months, ever since they passed a budget, they had been asking Republicans to set up a conference committee, with negotiators from both parties. Senate Republicans had objected to this, for a number of reasons, chiefly because the product produced in conference might include aspects they didn’t like. That was sort of the point of bringing Obamacare funds into the CR, or the debt limit—with the threat of crisis upon them, Democrats might be forced to agree to provisions they wouldn’t include in the conference committee.

The Rules Committee meeting that followed consisted of Republicans insisting that they had time (less than two hours!) to make this work, and Democrats insisting that they didn’t.

“You all have given new meeting to theater of the absurd,” said Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings.

The rule passed, 7–4. The House would return for another vote.

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the government shutdown.