Obviously the first and most important point to be made about the possibility of the government shutting down this week is the fact that had Democrats, who held a majority in both the House and Senate last year, done their basic job of passing a budget, this wouldn’t be an impending problem.
Now, unsurprisingly, it has devolved into a political battle pitting the Republicans on the side of cutting spending as their constituency insists upon (and voted for) against Democrats who, failing to do their job last year, now are dragging their feet in the Senate (the House passed a continuing resolution to fund government 46 days ago) and making veto threats from the White House.
Funny, how politics works, isn’t it? Those who didn’t do their job last year or provide any leadership on the subject are now actively working against passage of a stop-gap funding measure and prepared to blame those who are attempting to fix the problem for any government shutdown which might occur.
While he had every opportunity to weigh in on the budget last year when Democrats didn’t pass one, now that he sees political advantage in weighing in (he just started his 2012 re-election campaign remember) we finally hear from President Obama:
“What we can’t be doing is using last year’s budget process to have arguments about abortion; to have arguments about the Environmental Protection Agency; to try to use this budget negotiation as a vehicle for every ideological or political difference between the two parties. That’s what the legislature is for, is to have those arguments, but not stuff it all into one budget bill.”
Now he takes a stand. When his party failed to pass a budget last year? Crickets. Apparently fully prepared to live on continuing resolutions during the tenure of the Democratic controlled Congress, now he’s putting his foot down. Instead of working to ease the situation and negotiate a settlement that would be acceptable to both parties, he threatens a veto.
“On the issue of a short-term extension, we’ve already done that twice. We did it once for two weeks, then we did another one for three weeks. That is not a way to run a government.
No kidding. But where in the heck was the president last year when Congress failed in its duty and set this predicament up? The government has been working on “short-term extensions” since October of last year. Now, suddenly, they’re a problem.
I don’t disagree with Obama’s points, I just am disgusted by the disingenuousness of the argument. Not that it surprises me, however, at all.
But when government shuts down, and the blame game begins, remember the reason that such a situation even developed in the first place. Congressional nonfeasance and lack of presidential leadership.
In a few words it can be summed up by "deny funding".
Republicans will try to block money requested by the Obama administration to implement Democrats’ signature Wall Street and healthcare reforms in a stopgap spending measure expected to clear Congress next week. The GOP is seizing on the administration’s funding request as an opportunity to send a message to voters that it wants to reduce government spending and provide a check on President Obama.
Given they don’t have the votes to repeal it and override the presidential veto which is sure to follow any such attempt, this is about their only choice. How effective it would be – both politically and in reality – remain unknown. As one might imagine, the blowback potential is significant.
The first test – since Democrats haven’t passed a budget – is a continuing resolution (CR) necessary to keep government funded beyond Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. It is needed to prevent a government shutdown. Republicans are planning to target those parts of the spending request which apply to funding parts of the new legislation:
The Obama administration has asked appropriators crafting the CR to include roughly $20 billion in new spending, according to GOP appropriators.
That request includes $250 million for doctors, nurses, physician assistants and other primary-care health workers. In asking appropriators for the money, the administration said the increase in health workforce funding is needed to meet the demands of the newly insured under the Democrats’ healthcare act.
The administration also requested $14 million for the Treasury Department so it can carry out the new Wall Street reforms.
Says Sen. Lamar Alexander:
“If the question is whether to approve money to fund certain parts of the healthcare law, that’s certainly one way to try to limit its impact,” he said.
Indeed, without majorities or the White House, this is the only avenue that’s really open to the GOP.
Of course that’s brought the usual obstructionist charges from Democrats:
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) blamed Republicans for the need to resort to a stopgap spending measure in the first place.
“I’d much prefer doing individual bills, but with the Republicans blocking everything, that’s hard to do,” Leahy said.
Yeah, bi-partisanship is a bitch, huh Senator – especially when you can’t just ram things through with an filibuster proof majority as you once could. Someone get him a little cheese for that whine.
In the meantime this is the best way for the GOP to lessen the impact of the bad legislation this administration has passed, until they can gain the majorities and the White House and work toward repeal.