Spending Delayed as Senate Filibuster Reaches Late Into Night
JEFFERSON CITY — A group of Senate Republicans introduced Jesus as a special guest, read from classic books and talked about piloting airplanes late into the night Tuesday, using delay tactics to halt a bill to OK spending federal stimulus money.
The filibuster began just after 4 p.m., after the four Republicans tried and failed to reduce federal money for broadband Internet. The senators, Brian Nieves of Washington, Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, Jim Lembke of St. Louis County, and Will Kraus of Lee's Summit, said they would continue their delay until Senate leaders agreed to cut about $40 million from the reappropriations bill.
These are the same senators who blocked the extension of unemployment benefits for weeks earlier this year before allowing them through. At the time, they claimed to have struck a deal with Senate leaders to cut $250 million from Missouri's federal funds, but that has not happened. Now, they've compromised enough, the four men said. The group is frustrated with what they call out-of-control federal spending.
Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia and the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, said Tuesday evening the filibuster would last awhile. But as the other side said it would not back down, Schaefer said he would not alter the bill. Not accepting the money would disadvantage Missouri, but would not cut federal spending because the federal government would simply give the money to another state, Schaefer has said.
The delays are holding up other priority legislation from floor debate. If conference committee members can agree on $23 billion in budget bills, the House and Senate would need to pass the legislation by the Friday deadline. If the four Republicans continue to filibuster in the Senate until then, that chamber could not debate and vote on the budget. Under that scenario, the House would need to agree to the Senate version of the bill, so it wouldn't have to go back to the Senate for approval. But representatives have already said they're not willing to do that.