Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made it clear Tuesday that Republicans can't use a filibuster to block a spending bill designed to avoid government shutdown, saying that a scheduled Wednesday procedural vote on the measure will happen regardless.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has threatened to take to the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon and talk into the night, or longer, in a gesture designed — at least ceremonially — to delay action on the spending bill to force a vote on a measure to defund Obamcare.
But Reid said Senate rules would prevent Cruz from seizing control of the Senate in a style similarly used by actor Jimmy Stewart in the classic 1939 film "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." The Nevada Democrat said that no matter what anyone does, rules dictate the Senate will automatically adjourn Wednesday at noon, then come back into session to hold the vote on the spending bill early in the afternoon.
"There will be no filibuster today," Reid said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. "Filibusters stop people from voting. And we are going to vote tomorrow. Under the rules, no one can stop that."
The House last week passed passed a continuing resolution that funds the government into the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, but also includes a provision to defund President Obama's health care reform law. Reid intends to strip out the Obamacare funding measure and hold a vote on a "clean" spending bill.
With several procedural votes scheduled on the measure in coming days, Cruz and conservative ally Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, have threatened to use every tactic in their power to force a roll call on a measure to kill funding for Obamacare. But most of his Republican colleagues, including the leadership, have rejected the approach, fearing that voters would blame Republicans if the tactic led to a partial government shutdown Oct. 1.
Cruz and Lee could continue to hold up the spending bill through the weekend, but rules say a final vote is guaranteed to take place Sunday at the latest.