Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 19, 2014

Shutdown Looks Inevitable Unless Boehner Changes His Mind

A partial government shutdown starting tonight is now looking like a certainty.

Twelve hours before spending authority lapses for all but essential federal operations, there is no sign that either side is willing to contemplate any concessions.

The only viable path to avert the shutdown is under the control of Speaker John A. Boehner, although this morning he gave no hint he was interested in pursuing it. “The House has done its work,” the Ohio Republican declared on the floor in reference to the continuing resolution that his unified Republican troops pushed through early Sunday. It would maintain sequester-level funding of all federal operations for a dozen weeks, delay the health law for a year and repeal a tax on medical devices.

The Senate will convene at 2 p.m., and all indications are that by this evening, the Democrats will be able to use their majority muscle to delete the Obamacare and medical device riders before sending the bill back once more to the House. There are no indications that Texan Ted Cruz or other conservative Republicans will try to prevent that from happening, knowing that delaying beyond midnight would shift responsibility for a shutdown onto them.

Even before the paperwork arrives from the Senate, though, Boehner would be able to get almost all the Democrats and several dozen Republicans to vote for a straightforward extension of existing spending levels — so long as it lasted only until the middle of October, which would align the appropriations battle with the deadline for raising the debt ceiling. The Senate can be counted on to quickly clear such a clean, short-term CR, which would then set the table for a climactic round of negotiations in search of deal that would bring both halves of the budget battle to a coordinated end.

For that scenario to play out, though, Boehner would need to conclude, at the last possible hour, that he can survive the outrage that would spill forth from the hard-line conservatives who dominate his caucus. He would have to persuade them that shouldering most of the blame for a shutdown in the immediate aftermath would weaken their long-term ability to gain any budget concessions or restrictions on implementation of the health law.

A more likely alternative is that, even if Boehner decides to risk assembling a bipartisan majority for a clean short-term CR, he will wait until the shutdown has been in effect for a few days. He would be calculating that the impact on federal services, the paychecks of 800,000 government workers and investor confidence is worth the potential payoff to him: Persuading the conservative hard-liners that the political stovetop they’ve just insisted on touching really was as hot as the leadership predicted it was, and that the fight they are spoiling for is better waged in conjunction with the debt debate.

The degree to which the tea party caucus seems determined to make tonight their symbolic last stand is undeniably high, however. The climatic House GOP caucus on Saturday, when the group last decided to stick with anti-Obamacare provisions knowing they would not survive the Senate, was punctuated with a cry of “Let’s roll!” from John Culberson of Texas — who later said he was alluding to the cry of United 93 passenger Todd Beamer.

The allusion was apt: The passengers who took over that plane on Sept. 11 expected to die, but concluded their heroic self-sacrifice was worth it to save big-time harm to the country.

  • phoneranger

    There is zero chance that Culberson will lose his job or prevent big-time harm to the country.

    • Just Saying

      Agreed, poor choice of words. It would have been better had he gone with “Sweep the leg” from Karate Kid or even “Ducks fly together” and then started quacking to show the party was doing this as a team much like the Mighty Ducks. Just saying . . .

  • sjberke1

    One factor that will help determine the length of the shutdown–what happens in the financial markets. Remember in September 2008 the House, due to unanimous GOP opposition (although they were in the minority) voted down TARP and the next day the Dow Industrials plunged 500 points, after which TARP quickly went through? Something similar might make it easier for Boehner and the sane Republicans to do what has to be done.

    • Just Saying

      But kind of ridiculous that our economy has to drop to get Congress to move, don’t you think? I mean coming to a standstill every 6-10 months on economic policy is just unacceptable.

      • yahoouser1165

        We wouldn’t be here if after the Senate had passed a budget for the first time in years both chambers sat down and came to an agreement. It has been at least 4 months since the Senate finally passed a budget and we still are looking at the CR process we have used for five years now.

        • Just Saying

          totally ridiculous, right?!

      • Layla

        “Has to drop”? Do you EVER get out of Washington? Amerika is boarded up, you’ve sent all the jobs overseas and those left out here are being reduced to 29 hrs. per week due to this insane healthcare bill.

        • Just Saying

          Yes, ma’am and I hope you are well.

          I was agreeing here. This whole standoff is ridiculous, but I think there are a number of factors causing this situation- I don’t think it is fair or accurate to pin it on one law.

          • Layla

            Thanks, Just saying. I don’t think the stand off is ridiculous. If you think that Americans want anymore of Obama’s economic policies I would strongly advise you to get out of DC and take a good look at what’s it’s done to American cities. Small businesses are shutting down. Stores are closing and boarding up. Less than 50% of the population are working and many of those have been reduced to 29 hours BECAUSE OF OBAMACARE. We call it the law of unintended consequences. I spent 19 years working on Capitol Hill. On this I am not wrong. If you think the anger out here is limited to the tea party, you would be very wrong.

            This administration and Congress are killing the American people. We WOULD RATHER see it shut down than have more of this.

            You have squeezed the last dime out of the American middle class. We’ll see how many in Congress are still standing in 2014 after the elections. And it will most definitely be bipartisan.

          • Just Saying

            We both can only hope that people will not be blinded by “my Rep is good” because as a collective body, they really are killing us.

            We seem to come back to the Affordable Care Act often in our discourse. I guess since it has not hit full impact, I am not clear on how the ACA has caused the statistic you list. I mean, yes, the majority of us are underemployed or unemployed. But, a lot of that stemmed from the 2008 blow up- which came before Obama and before the ACA.

            I just don’t see how shutting it down fixes anything. Voting them all out? Yes, you and I have agreed on that multiple times. These politicians definitely do not know what it is like to realize on the 15th of the month that they may not have enough or will not make enough to cover rent at the end of the month. Mac ‘n Chez or PB&J sandwiches are considered “retro nights” to them- to us . . . its just dinner.

  • Layla

    Most Americans are not working and those who are find themselves working just 29 hour weeks. You’re not going to find a lot of sympathy for anybody from out in the hinterlands. We cut back; you refuse.

    Don’t care if you shut it down and keep it that way.

  • Michael Beard

    Why the assumption that only John Boener has control of preventing the shutdown. As I remember, it takes two to tango. What about Harry Reid and Pres. Obama compromising a little. Does only Obama get to pick and choose what he chooses to delay? Further, both parties know that the Medical Equip sales tax should be eliminated. Many Dems have lobbied for this.

    • dennisc200

      Michael, have you ever read the US Constitution? The President has the power of the veto. Nothing the Congress passes becomes law unless the President signs it, or there is a 2/3rds majority to override the veto.

      • Arizona_Don

        Did you understand the question or statement? I don’t think so. The statement was why is it only Boehner who is responsible for a shutdown? I concur. It seems the blame goes at the very least equally among the two factions of the legislative branch. In the final analysis however, in reality the blame lies with the executive branch.

        Therefore, I think your enlightenment was unnecessary.

        Harry Reid thinks he is totally in control of both houses of congress and will not negotiate, it seems, on anything. Furthermore, obama has stated he refuses to negotiate and yet somehow the House Republicans get the blame for a shutdown. Only a liberal progressive communist would think that way!

        The reason is quite obvious for those of us who can see it. The liberal progressive communistic media AKA the main stream media will always call it that way and those who cannot think for themselves will consider they are correct.

  • Arizona_Don

    This shutdown, if it comes to a shutdown, may very well be a lose lose for both parties. However, it will hurt many people and if past experiences prove to be true obama will see to it it hurts as many people as possible. Thinking he will not get the blame. Make no mistake however, he will get on his blame bus again and that’s all he will talk about for some time to come. Whose fault it was.

    The lose lose is by far and away going to hurt the democrats the most. Especially for the coming 2014 election and it may carry over into 2016.

    As I see this debacle it may turn out to be so bad for the citizens both obama and the main stream communists AKA liberal progressives will suffer in perhaps the next several elections. The Republicans attempted to save a lot of pain for the everyday citizen both liberal and conservative but harry and obama said no way and the communistic media supports that. The Republicans have attempted to get past these hurdles by postponing it for a year so that many of the really harmful and individually devastating parts of it can be somewhat reduced. Like obama saw fit to postpone it for the corporations. But they give more to the election campaigns then the citizens. So he, actually, sees them as special.

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