In an unusual burst of energy, Senate Democrats made the rare decision to act like grown-ups and move forward with a short-term budget deal they’d been holding hostage for days. After dragging their feet on the continuing resolution that members were desperate to pass so that they could get home and campaign, Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) finally agreed with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to push the bill closer to the finish line before the September 30 deadline.
With just two days left until the government runs out of cash, Republicans have been more than ready to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the lights on (and fund the Zika virus and veterans projects). But until a few hours ago, liberals insisted that Congress roll relief money for Flint, Michigan into the final package before passing it. That seems redundant, Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) pointed out, since there’s already aid built into a separate bill. “I think that’s a pretty lame excuse not to pass the CR.” Cornyn told reporters, adding that “the Senate has already overwhelmingly passed a solution in the Senate bill [Water Resources Development Act of 2016].” Convinced that the city’s crisis will be addressed separately, Reid and Pelosi gave their blessing to a bill that conservatives would agree is not perfect. But with few options left on the table, 72 senators voted to give the green light to a proposal that will keep the government running until December 9, when Americans will have chosen their next president.
Today, though, the biggest news wasn’t that common sense prevailed in the Senate, but that an overwhelming majority of Congress finally handed Barack Obama the first veto override of his presidency. By an enormous margin (97-1, Harry Reid as the lone nay, and 348-77 in the House), Congress gave the families of 9/11 victims the ability to sue the Saudi Arabian government for any role in the plot — an opportunity the president denied them. Even hard-core liberals like senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) broke with his party’s top leader and explained that “This bill is near and dear to my heart as a New Yorker, because it would allow the victims of 9/11 to pursue some small measure of justice, finally giving them a legal avenue to pursue foreign sponsors of the terrorist attack that took from them the lives of their loved ones.”
In yet another display of how the Obama administration is out of step with the rest of the country, White House spokesman Josh Earnest decried the Senate voter earlier today as “embarrassing” to the nation. Earnest should know something about embarrassing the nation, because the Obama administration has perfected that process.
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