WASHINGTON D. C. (AP) -- The Senate has unanimously voted to debate the House GOP's stopgap spending bill that would avert a government shutdown, but unravel President Barack Obama's health care law.
The vote was 100-0 and came an hour after freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) ended his 21-hour, 19-minute filibuster. Sen. Cruz supports the House bill but used a stalling tactic to postpone the inevitable and bring attention to the bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has the votes to strip out the provision defunding Obamacare and send the spending bill back to the House.
The procedural vote allows Senate Democrats to introduce an amendment to the bill Thursday which would reinstate funding for the Affordable Care Act. Debate on that measure would then start on Friday and likely end Saturday. On Sunday, the Senate is expected to approve the amendment on a straight party-line vote. Final passage of the amended bill would follow, sending it back to the House of Representatives.
GOP House leaders would then have just one day to figure out a compromise bill that could pass the Senate by Monday at midnight, which is when the fiscal year ends. Failure to do so would result in a shutdown of the federal government, because there would be no money appropriated to keep it running.