From FNC colleague Kara Rowland:
Here’s the latest on the fate of the CR in the Senate.
WHAT HAPPENED MONDAY
Before the Senate adjourned Monday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — as expected — filed cloture on the motion to proceed to the House-passed CR. Earlier in the day, Reid objected to two separate motions by Sen. Ted Cruz that would have a) prevented any amendments to the CR as passed by the House and b) required at least 60 votes for any amendment to pass.
WHAT THAT MEANS – STATE OF PLAY
With Reid’s filing of cloture on the motion to proceed, the Senate is effectively on “autopilot.” In accordance with chamber rules, the cloture vote will take place one hour after the Senate gavels in on Wednesday (the Senate usually convenes around 9:30/10 am but technically this means any time after 1:01 a.m. Wednesday as cloture takes one day and an hour to “ripen”).
The fact that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Cornyn, have said they will support cloture and are actively whipping their colleagues to do so is a big, big blow to the efforts of Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee. Republicans have 46 members of their caucus; it takes 41 votes to defeat cloture. Other Republicans like Mccain, Corker and Coburn have criticized the Cruz tactics. It’s sure to be an uphill battle for Cruz and Lee to pick off enough Republicans to stand alongside them and vote against cloture. Why? Because — remember, the CR does exactly what the GOP says it wants at this point. It defunds Obamacare. So these Republicans like McConnell who intend to vote for cloture can still say they are voting to further a bill that defunds Obamacare.
Of course, if the Senate votes to invoke cloture Wednesday morning there are still several other traps to run. There are 30 hours of post-cloture debate time that Cruz et al could force the Senate to burn, setting up another cloture vote late in the week on the underlying bill itself. It is after that vote that Reid can use procedural tactics to offer an amendment stripping the bill of the defunding provision via a majority vote. Which can easily pass given that Democrats have 54 members of their caucus. Then it’s back to the House.
WHAT HAPPENS TODAY
Today we are not going to see any votes related to the CR (there is a judicial nominee being voted on this morning that we don’t care about). However, there will be plenty of sound and theater related to the CR involving both sides.
10:00 am. — the Senate convenes. Expect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make remarks following the prayer and pledge, likely reiterating what he’s already said. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell likely will make remarks of his own soon after.
12:30 pm – 2 — both Senate Republicans and Democrats hold their own closed-door caucus luncheons, as is customary on Tuesdays.
Around 2-2:10pm — Reid and McConnell will hold separate media availabilities in the Ohio Clock Corridor. We will have them feeding back live. Typically they make brief opening statements and then take a small handful of questions from the press. Of the two, McConnell will be the more interesting given he’s come out against Cruz’s tactics and is actively whipping his colleagues to support cloture on the CR.
Around 2:15 — Senate Appropriations Chairman Barbara Mikulski is going to be recognized on the Senate floor. She’s a big critic of the Cruz push to defund Obamacare in the CR.
Around 2:30 — After Mikulski speaks, Sen. Cruz is expected to be recognized to speak on the Senate floor.
Anything could happen … but given the public statements of those involved, if things play out the way we expect, the writing is on the wall as far as the fate of the CR in the Senate. So it’s more of a messaging battle at this point. Cruz and Lee and their backers have to a) explain to the public why it makes sense to filibuster the very bill they say they wanted and b) explain why, if we do end up with a shutdown or perilously close to one, Republicans will not be to blame.
NOTE — CLARIFICATION – “TALKING FILIBUSTER” VS. REGULAR FILIBUSTER
This gets confusing so just to be clear, we are NOT likely to see a talking filibuster a la Rand Paul. That’s because Paul was able to hijack the floor ahead of Reid filing cloture, at a point when there was no “rule” governing floor time (note that Mike Lee made this point last night in his interview with Greta explaining filibusters). Reid now has the schedule set so while Cruz et al can speak on the floor, there’s no possibility of them seizing control of the floor. This is an important procedural difference — although it may be lost on the public. That said, what it means is that they can’t block the vote. Unlike Sen. Paul earlier this year.