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Harry Reid blocks funding for veterans programs, national parks

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,Senate Republican Conference,Veterans Affairs,Republican Party,Democratic Party,Harry Reid,Mitch McConnell,Chuck Schumer,Analysis,Government Shutdown,Veterans,National Park Service

Senate Democrats blocked four resolutions to fund government programs, including paying the National Guard and opening national parks, as Republicans offered the limited measures in an attempt to win the government shutdown fight by financing popular programs and leaving those they oppose untouched.

“Unbelievably, today Senate Democrats went on record to oppose funding for National Guard and Reserve salaries, veterans’ services, lifesaving medicine and cures, and national parks and museums," Senate Republican Conference chairman John Thune, R-S.D., said in a release following the procedural battle.

"Congress unanimously passed a bill to ensure active-duty military personnel are paid during this lapse in government funding, and it’s unclear why Senate Democrats wouldn’t pass similar measures to fund these important services,” Thune said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asked for unanimous consent to pass funding for the Veterans Affairs Department and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, requested unanimous consent to pass a bill funding the national parks and monuments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., rejected both.

"Senator Reid is countering Republicans' UC request with a request to pass a clean [continuing resolution] that reopens the entire government," Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson tweeted.

Thune offered a measure that would ensure the National Guard and Reserve units do not see their pay interrupted, and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., called for the Senate to fund the National Institutes of Health. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., blocked the measures.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., defended the maneuvers during a press conference Thursday afternoon. "To fund these piecemeal bills would give Ted Cruz a veto power over what is funded and what isn't," Schumer said. "We are not going along with that — how could we?"

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