Economy & Budget

Reid blocks government funding bill to aid in Montana Senate race

Reid blocks government funding bill to aid in Montana Senate race

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is holding up the final vote on a spending measure that will prevent a government shutdown unless Republicans agree to vote on a massive package of bills designed to help a Montana senator in a tough reelection fight.

“All Republicans want to do is extend government funding for a few months, and the majority leader won’t even do that unless he can squeeze in yet another political vote,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday.

The current fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and while the Republican-controlled House has passed numerous appropriations bills to fund the 2013 fiscal year, Reid has refused to bring the legislation up for a vote in the Senate. To keep government operating, the House and Senate tentatively agreed to extend current funding for six months, but both chambers must pass the Continuing Resolution (CR), which the House did last week.

“The Democrats have treated the Senate floor like a campaign studio for two years. Now they’re holding the CR hostage for no other reason than to help one of their members on the campaign trail,” McConnell said.

“We’ve got responsibilities to meet. Let’s meet them. And leave the politics out of it for once,” McConnell said.

As it stands, Senators will not be able to vote on the bill until midnight. Earlier this week, a measure by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to pull foreign aid from Pakistan, Libya and Egypt threatened to stall the CR.

The additional legislation for which Reid is seeking a vote was compiled by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) who is facing a tough challenge in his re-election bid from Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) – Rehberg has a slight edge in recent polling.

Tester recently introduced legislation that contains 20 separate bills, purportedly to ensure hunters and anglers have access to public lands, but it also includes $1.5 billion in new spending for conservation projects.

“Tester is in a tough re-election campaign and this is nothing but a blatant ploy on Reid’s part to boost Tester’s election chances,” said a senior Republican Senate aide.

Although Democrats are pushing for a vote on the Tester legislation this weekend to coincide with the opening of hunting season in Montana, it will not have any effect on sportsmen.

A senior House Republican staffer called Tester’s legislation “wishy-washy” and said even if it does pass the Senate, the measure stands little chance of passing the House this session.

Snapping his fingers, Reid said Tester’s bill should pass “in a matter of seconds.”

“It’s time for Republicans to stop talking about how much they want to get things done, and start working with us to actually get things done,” Reid said.

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