- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that it has less than a month’s worth of room to maneuver before it hits the debt limit, dropping yet another major fiscal deadline in the lap of a Congress already stymied over the annual spending bills.

The spending fight took a step forward when the Senate moved past Sen. Ted Cruz’s 21-hour filibuster Wednesday afternoon, pushing toward a major vote at the end of the week on a stopgap spending measure that would shift pressure back to House Republicans.

Mr. Cruz said he hasn’t given up hope that conservatives, stiffened by his lengthy argument, will rally together and halt the bill in the Senate or defeat it in the House.

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“At this point, the debate is in the hands of the American people,” the Texas Republican told reporters after stepping off the Senate floor, where he held court for 21 hours and 19 minutes. “At this point, I think I’ve spoken long enough.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, called Mr. Cruz’s effort a “big waste of time” and vowed to speed up the clock. Indeed, later Wednesday the Senate voted unanimously to officially begin debate on the stopgap bill, putting it on track for a final vote no later than Saturday and possibly as early as Friday.

“The bottom line is very simple. Sen. Cruz has actually advanced our cause,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat. “He has alienated some of his colleagues, he has united Democrats and he has shown the American people that he is willing to hold them and their well-being hostage unless he gets his way.”

SEE ALSO: Obamacare insurance premiums ‘lower than expected,’ White House says

The Democratic schedule

The House and Senate are racing a deadline of midnight Monday, which is when the current funding bills expire.

The House last week passed a bill that keeps the government open through mid-December while halting all funding for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and leaving the sequester budget cuts in place.

Senate Democrats have vowed to pass an amendment stripping out the Obamacare language.

If events play out as Democratic leaders have structured them, the Senate will vote Friday to cut off debate on the spending measure, will approve the amendment that would restore funding to Obamacare, pass the bill and then send it back to the House.

The Republican House leadership is struggling with what to do.

Meanwhile, the Treasury Department announced that it will run out of borrowing room by Oct. 17 and has just $30 billion in cash to pay incoming bills, which analysts said won’t last beyond the end of October and could be exhausted as early as Oct. 22.

That starts the clock ticking on another grim deadline, even with the spending fight pending.

A 21:19 speech

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