The Senate on Thursday voted 47-52 to block a temporary funding measure opposed by the White House that would have cut funding for Planned Parenthood, but then set up a vote next week on a “clean” bill.
After the failed vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) teed up the new measure, which contains almost all the same funding, but omits the Planned Parenthood language. A vote to cut off debate on the measure is expected to occur at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.
The legislative vehicle for temporarily funding the government until also changed from H J Res 61 to H.R. 719, which has passed both the House and Senate in differing forms, cutting down on the number of procedural steps needed to pass it as a CR. The continuing resolution will provide funding until December 11.
In the House, most are predicting the GOP members that are not in the Freedom Caucus to team up with Democrats to clear the clean CR, therefore House and Senate leaders appear to be on track to pass a shutdown-averting, 10-week government funding method next week.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced today he will resign at the end of October, capping a four-and-half-year reign in which he repeatedly clashed with many disruptive far right conservatives in his own party.
Many lawmakers are predicting House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as the favorite to succeed Boehner as Speaker.
The biggest news of the week was of course, Pope Francis’s Washington visit and speech to a joint meeting of Congress. The Pope touched on a wide array of political topics from domestic policies, to immigration, environmental issues and international affairs.
The White House will host Chinese President Xi Jinping at a state dinner tonight. This afternoon, the Senate will host Xi for a meeting with leadership from both the House and Senate and members of the Foreign Relations Committee, among others.
Cyber security is likely among the top issues that will be discussed during the Chinese president’s visit. On Thursday, Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told reporters she does not expect a cyber agreement to be reached during the visit and said if cyber theft issues are not resolved soon, “I think it’s going to cause major misunderstanding within the two nations.”
While the threat of a government shutdown next week appears to be diminishing after this morning’s announcement that Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) will step down as speaker next month, what happens later this fall is unclear. Another funding cliff is possible, with the expiration date of the short-term CR potentially coinciding with the debt ceiling fight and the expiration of tax breaks.
Current government funding (PL 113-235) expires Wednesday night.
Outside of the CR, there are also plans in the works for the House GOP conference to use separate reconciliation legislation to permanently defund Planned Parenthood.
Markups of a reconciliation bill in the House committees of jurisdiction are expected to begin next week. Meanwhile, leaders are also planning a vote on a separate bill (H.R. 3495) next week that would allow states to exclude providers that perform abortions, such as Planned Parenthood, from Medicaid contracts.
Boehner’s resignation announcement also brings up the question whether he uses, or can use, his final weeks to push through legislation over the objections of a faction of his party, as he appears willing to do with the CR. Within limits, he could use his final weeks to spare his successor some headaches by getting legislation done now.
No longer worried about the speakership, he could for example probably find the votes to push through an ambitious highway bill — the Senate has already passed one (H.R. 22) — before the current authorization expires on October 29. He could also push through reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, defying conservatives who blocked renewal at the end of June.