House To Vote On Budget That Makes A Government Shutdown More Likely
Later this week, the House will vote on a Continuing Resolution that defunds the Affordable Care Act and seems to raise the risk of a government shutdown:
WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders — bowing to the demands of their conservative wing — will put to a vote on Friday a stopgap spending measure that would strip all funding from President Obama’s signature health care law, increasing the likelihood that the government will shut down in two weeks.
House leaders are hoping the vote on the defunding measure will placate conservatives once the Democratically controlled Senate rejects it. The House, they are betting, would then pass a stopgap spending measure unencumbered by such policy baggage and shift the argument to the debt ceiling, which must be raised by mid-October if the government is to avoid an economically debilitating default.
But publicly, Republican leaders say they are ready for a standoff with the Senate and will not easily give in.
“The law’s a train wreck,” Speaker John A. Boehner said of the health care law, the Affordable Care Act, on Wednesday morning. “It’s time to protect American families from this unworkable law.”
The decision to embrace a showdown on the health care law came after months of pushing by conservatives – and resistance by Republican leaders — to link it to the government financing measures that Congress must address this fall. In March, referring to the push to link funding for the health care law to an increase in the debt limit, Mr. Boehner asked: “Do you want to risk the full faith and credit of the U.S. government over Obamacare? That’s a very tough argument to make.”
Speaking to a national business group on Wednesday, Mr. Obama tried to raise the pressure on Congressional Republicans, saying that threats of a fiscal default or government shutdown by his political adversaries risk throwing the United States economy back into crisis.
Mr. Obama accused what he called “a faction” of Republicans in the House of trying to “extort” him by refusing to pass a stopgap spending measure or raise the nation’s debt ceiling unless the president’s health care plan is repealed.
“You have never in the history of the United States seen the threat of not raising the debt ceiling to extort a president or a governing party,” Mr. Obama told the group, the Business Roundtable. “It’s irresponsible.”
Mr. Obama called upon the business leaders to try to convince lawmakers to avoid the kind of “brinksmanship” that would lead to promises of “apocalypse” every few months.
“What I will not do is to create a habit, a pattern whereby the full faith and credit of the United States ends up being a bargaining chip to make policy,” he said.
“I’m tired of it,” he added. “And I suspect you are too.”
At least for now, the decision by House Republicans to move ahead on a vote to link health care funding to a government financing measure has unified House Republicans, even as it has divided their Senate counterparts.
“I have not watched our conference so unified as we walk into this battle,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Republican whip.
Senators are not so sure. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, called gutting the health care law “a bridge too far” with Democrats in control of the White House and Senate. And, he added: “At the end of the day, a shutdown we own. Like it or not, we’re going to own it.”
For all this talk about Republican “unity” in the House, what we’re really looking at here is yet another in the long serious of votes against the Affordable Care Act that we’ve seen from the House since January 2011. Depending how you count them, there have been somewhere between 50 and 60 such votes in that period, none of which have gotten anywhere in the Senate. In this case, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Assuming the matter even comes up for a vote, the Senate will dispose of this matter quite handily and then we’ll be back where we were at the beginning, with no budget for the new Fiscal Year and the government facing a shutdown if Congress doesn’t come up with something. At that point, the GOP will have to ask itself whether it’s more important to continue scoring political points with the base over the Affordable Care Act, or to get a budget passed as required by law.
Politically speaking, there seems no way that Republicans can win this thing. Notwithstanding the fact that polling continues to show that the PPACA is wildly unpopular, and that there have been countless signs that implementation of the law is going to be filled with unforeseeable administrative problems, it seems fairly clear that the GOP is going to get blamed if the government shuts down, especially if it ends up being a prolonged crisis. However, on some level perhaps Boehner and company are playing the right game here. Let Ted Cruz and the Tea Party crowd have their Obamacare vote and, when it dies its inevitable death in the Senate, turn to them and ask “What’s next?” Because, any person who observes politics for more than a minute knows that there’s no way a the PPACA is going to be “defunded” or delayed as long as Democrats control the White House and the Senate. Of course, with just over ten days left until the Fiscal Year ends, they’re cutting things pretty close here.