WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Harkin is urging House members to quickly sign off on the legislation approved Friday by the Senate.
The Iowa Democrat noted that the legislation, approved on a party-line, 54-44 vote, would avert a government shutdown that is only a few days away.
“Our economy cannot sustain another manufactured crisis,” he said, “which is why I hope the U.S. House will recognize the urgency of this situation, put ideology aside, and act swiftly to take up and pass this measure.”
But House Republicans have made it clear that they are going to make some revisions to the bill this weekend and send it back.
And Nebraska's U.S. senators, both Republicans, were highly critical of the process that led to Friday's Senate approval, saying they had to oppose the bill even though they think a shutdown would be bad news.
“I'm not in favor of a shutdown, I've said that all along,” Sen. Deb Fischer said shortly after voting against the legislation.
Fischer criticized the current dynamic in Washington of lurching from one emergency situation to another — from potential military strikes against Syria to budget battles.
She said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has shut members out from offering amendments on major legislation.
“I'm frustrated today, and it's because nobody talks about this stuff — we go from crisis to crisis,” Fischer said.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., said he voted against the legislation because it would violate previously established spending levels by $18 billion.
He also noted that Democrats stripped out language that had been approved by the House to defund the new health care law.
“In the end, we were left with a bill I could no longer support,” Johanns said.
On the votes to strip out the health care law provisions and for final passage, all the senators from Nebraska and Iowa stuck with their respective parties.
But the first vote of the day was on whether to move forward at all on the version of the bill approved by the House, which included the provisions to defund the Affordable Care Act.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other conservatives had urged their colleagues to block the measure from advancing to debate because it was obvious that Democrats would take out those provisions before final passage.
Many of Cruz's Republican colleagues rejected that thinking, however, saying it made no sense to block a bill they supported. The Senate opted to move forward by a vote of 79-19.
Harkin and Johanns voted to move forward. Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Fischer stood with Cruz and voted against moving ahead.
Now the hot potato goes back to the House. If the two chambers can't get something to the president's desk by Monday night, it will mean a government shutdown.
“Shutting down the government would deny Iowa's children, seniors, veterans, and small businesses many of the critical services they rely on to meet their daily needs,” Harkin said. “Now the House needs to stop holding middle class families hostage to their demands to defund or repeal the Affordable Care Act and act responsibly to keep our economy moving in the right direction.”