WASHINGTON -- The Republicans bent on defunding Obamacare or shutting down the government are "fanatics" with a "Thelma and Louise"-like mission to drive the nation off a cliff, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Monday.
The federal government will run out of money after Sept. 30 if Congress does not act by then to authorize more spending. Rather than simply do that, the House of Representatives last week passed a bill that would keep federal offices running only if the Senate and White House agreed to defund the Affordable Care Act. Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama are refusing to give in to that demand.
In his opening Senate floor remarks Monday afternoon, Reid said the only people who actually want Obamacare defunded are extremists.
He pointed to polls that have found broad support for most elements of the health care law and noted that many Senate Republicans think using a government shutdown to try to defund the law is a terrible idea.
"Are Republicans so intent on undermining both President Obama and his signature health care law that they're willing to inflict severe damage to our economy in the process?" Reid said. "America will know exactly who to blame: Republican fanatics in the House and the Senate."
"Two dozen Senate Republicans have spoken out against this foolhardy plan to drive the economy off the cliff -- two dozen," Reid added. "This 'Thelma and Louise' style just isn't getting the attention of the American people in a positive tone. If Democrats don't bow to every demand they [tea party Republicans] have, they want to go right over the cliff. Well, we're not going to go with them."
Reid said the Senate will deal with the House's continuing resolution -- as the spending bill is called -- and send it back to the House as quickly as possible.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who earlier pushed the House to pass its defund-or-else bill, has now said he will filibuster it because the Senate is likely to strip the defunding provision.