A sense of the absurd spread on the Senate floor as lawmakers voted a second time within hours to reject a House-passed funding stopgap shortly before a midnight deadline to avoid a government shutdown.
Senators defeated the House proposal along party lines, 54-46 There were no defections. The measure would have delayed the individual mandate, a core piece of the Affordable Care Act, and prevented congressional lawmakers and staff from receiving federal subsidies when they enter healthcare exchanges.
The situation appeared surreal to lawmakers as the clock ticked toward midnight and there appeared no evidence of progress or even negotiations between the two sides.
“Three and a half hours essentially until the government begins to shut down. Can you believe this?” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “We are the United States of America. We are a superpower. We’re supposed to be a nation governed by rule of law and we’re about to shut down.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) invoked Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity as performing the same action repeatedly and expecting a different result.
He panned the House-passed legislation for increasing the out-of-pocket healthcare costs of lawmakers and staffers.
“This time the House has attached a poison pill that would punish 16,000 congressional staff,” he said.
Read more: thehill.com