The House has been voting on dozens of amendments to the continuing resolution, under an open rule. Basically the House floor has become the House Appropriations Committee, with everyone involved. This means that pressing matters like birth control for horses (but not for people, thanks to the elimination of Title X funding) are getting a hearing on the House floor. It means Democratic and Republican elites teaming up to try and preserve the lobby-protected for-profit college racket from regulation. And it means that Democrats have been able to work with a handful of Republicans to forestall some cuts to programs, like funding for legal aid to the poor, $280 million for the COPS program and $510 million for Homeland Security grants for first responders. It has made for some interesting coalitions. However, in the final analysis, the baseline level of cuts is exactly the same, because the debate is operating under a rule where any restoration of funding has to be offset by cuts elsewhere. So we’re still looking at somewhere around $62 billion in cuts that would begin March 5, if the bill was adopted.
That’s not going to happen. The President threatened a veto. So the question then becomes, what happens after this bill wraps up work, sometime today? The Senate is likely to come up with a far different measure. And it will take time to haggle that out. And they’re out of town next week. So it seems nearly impossible to arrive at a solution before the deadline.
That would mean a short-term CR while the talks continue. Or not.
“We’re going to do everything that we can to cut spending,” Boehner said Thursday morning at a Capitol news conference. “We’re hopeful that the Senate will take up the House-passed bill that comes out of here today, tonight, tomorrow morning, whenever it is. … But I am not going to move any kind of short-term [funding resolution] at current levels. When we say we’re going to cut spending, read my lips: We’re going to cut spending.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) accused Boehner of threatening to shut down the government.
“We’re terribly disappointed Speaker Boehner can’t control the votes in his caucus to prevent a shutdown of government, and now he’s resorting to threats to do just that, without any negotiations,” Reid told reporters at a Captiol stakeout. “That is not permissible We will not stand for that. It is wrong.”
Boehner also defended his “So be it” statement about job losses arising from their continuing resolution, essentially doubling down on the comment. Democrats have made a lot of hay out of that comment and the analysis that this continuing resolution would result in the loss of one million jobs. Fundamentally, even with the shifts in spending that analysis remains the same, because it’s based on the loss of demand from the economy.
But let’s look at the immediate consequences here. Boehner said there’s no chance at a short-term CR if differences between the House and Senate get worked out. At the same time, he has said that there will be no government shutdown. But without a short-term CR, the government will in fact shut down. Reid’s statement makes that clear. “I am disappointed that Speaker Boehner doesn’t believe he has the votes to avoid a government shutdown, unless his members get their way on all of their demands. It is unproductive to resort to threats of a shutdown without any negotiations.”
I’d say it’s more likely than not that we’ll get a shutdown, at this point. And each day of delay means another day of making the argument that Boehner wants to kill a million jobs.