Dems Claim Upper Hand In Government Shutdown Fight

Senate Democrats are prepared to back House Republicans into a corner if they refuse to relent and fund the government next year at the level the parties agreed to during last summer’s fight over raising the debt limit. And two recent developments — a pre-emptive White House veto threat and an olive branch from Senate Republicans — make them think they have the upper hand.

“I hope that [Senate Republicans] can persuade their House members and their colleagues over there to come to their senses and come back to the deal that we made last August instead of threatening us with another government shutdown,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) — a Democratic Senate leader and appropriator — at a Capitol briefing Thursday.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he’s “glad” the White House stepped in and drew a bright line, and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters that Democrats will have the upper hand if House Republicans don’t back off voluntarily.

For now, House Republicans aren’t addressing whether they’ll bend on funding levels for the federal government. But Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for top GOP House appropriator Hal Rogers, lambasted the Obama administration for inserting itself into the process, and said the GOP and Senate Dems will reach an agreement on funding the government on their own. “Both the Republican-led House and the Democrat-led Senate support completing Appropriations bills to fund the federal government in a responsible and timely manner,” she said in a statement. “The chairman is committed to carrying out this essential work, which has already begun, and will not be the least deterred by hollow press releases in the guise of ‘official’ correspondence. This year, when appropriations bills pass both the House and the Senate, the president can choose to sign them, or else he can choose to shut down the federal government, put the American people at risk, and imperil our economic recovery.”