Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

Shutdown or Default: Which Road Will House GOP Choose?

An alternative House Republican tactic for holding the government hostage in the crusade to hobble Obamacare has come into sharper focus today. It doesn’t look to have any better chance of  success than the first idea floated this week, but the consequences of pursuing the second course could be much more dramatic.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is floating the idea of insisting on a one-year delay in implementing the health care overhaul, or at least its individual mandate, as the price for legislation to increase the federal debt limit, which will hit its ceiling sometime in mid-October or early November.

Many conservatives and junior members embraced the debt-ceiling approach at a GOP caucus meeting Tuesday, and only a handful of veterans and politically vulnerable members expressed reservations — a reaction prompting the leadership to retain the economically risk-filled strategy as an option for a climactic confrontation in this fall’s budget wars.

The previous notion was to advance legislation with the same delaying effect, but tying it to a catch-all spending bill to keep the government running past Sept. 30 to at least Dec. 15. The GOP’s confrontational right flank expressed deep disappointment at that approach when it was unveiled Tuesday. It would permit the Senate Democratic majority to reject the anti-Obamacare provisions with a quick roll call and then send the $986 billion continuing resolution to the president for his signature.

Whether the conservative rebellion becomes intense enough to block this legislative two-step may be known by the end of the day — the House is supposed to debate the CR on Thursday.

If House Republicans acquiesce, concluding that holding their fire against the health law is preferable to provoking a government shutdown, that will only intensify the conservative clamor to embrace Cantor’s idea of making an Obamacare delay the ransom for increasing the Treasury’s borrowing authority. According to a new report out Tuesday, Treasury will need action no later than Nov. 5, and maybe as soon as Oct. 18,  in order to prevent a cataclysmic government default on paying back its bonds and other debt instruments.

But such a trade off would get only a handful of Democratic votes in the House, has almost no chance of surviving in the Senate and would be assured of opposition from President Barack Obama, who to this point has said he will countenance no conditions at all on increasing the permissible debt limit above $16.7 trillion.

The Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think-tank that estimated the default deadlines, also projected that the government would need to borrow $1.1 trillion more than that between now and the 2014 midterm elections.

Every round of drama over whether the government will cover it debts on time has the potential to cause significant economic distress. But the emerging consensus among House Republicans this week is that their political self-interest tells them to be less concerned about the financial markets’ anxieties next month than they are about the voters’ worries this month.

  • Layla

    The voters will be watching two issues: Defunding Obamacare and Amnesty for illegals. With millions of lost jobs in this country, many will be spending retirement accounts in order to pay the bills, until they run out. Both of these issues are at fault. And then the Congress has the gall to go along with exempting itself. Look for many lost seats next year and in 2016. There are no leaders in Washington anymore. With a dictator in the White House and a do nothing Congress, the people in this country are screwed. We cannot even tell the parties apart anymore. It is time to send you all home and to the unemployment lines you have created.

    • dectra


      Look it up: Shutting down the Government will NOT defund the ACA. It’s not written into law in such a way that it can be done, unless of course, the teabaggers have gone completely mental and keep the government closed forever………….which I’m sure one of the ‘tards will just think is a ‘wonderful’ idea.

      • Layla

        dectra, been to the real world lately? You know, the one where millions have lost homes and jobs? Have you seen all the boarded up malls and shopping centers? Been to towns where unemployment is closer to 20%? These people are not the Tea Party but we applaud what they are doing. I don’t care if they shut down the whole damn town, permanently.

  • S1AMER

    Does the GOP not know that most major insurance companies are salivating about the income they’re soon to receive as people start signing up? Drug companies looking at increased sales as more people have drug coverage? Hospitals and doctors seeing busy days ahead?

    I know the GOP doesn’t carea whit about poor, sick people in America — but are they really so blinded by their hatred of Obama that they can’t see how many of their usual medical-business supporters they’re about to deprive of income? Seriously?

  • wildrover4

    If I’m a democrat, I vote not on a CR that doesn’t increase the debt limit. We can survive a temporary shut down. We cannot survive a default. Beohner has but one more time to break the Hastert rule, make it count.

  • dectra

    The GOP will choose the most inane, stupid and self defeating one, obviously.

    True Leadership has not been seen in the ranks of the GOP in years. Not in Policy, or Planning or Action.

    And it’s why they’re still my EX-Party.

  • Wuthie

    Why is congress voting to let the Treasury borrow money to pay for the things congress has already voted for to fund?

    Sounds like another waste of government time and money.

  • xian

    GOP trying to decide between herp and derp.

  • Defend The Constitution

    If we examine the contrast between liberty and servitude, we discover that the “negative” sense of liberty does not reduce its desirability.

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