It’s Thursday. The government runs out of money on Friday. And there doesn’t appear to even be negotiations on resolving the impasse, which is tied up in the year-end extensions of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance. So the odds of a government shutdown are quite high.
Last night, the White House released an interesting statement, revealing issues with the omnibus spending bill – separate from the payroll tax measure – and calling for a short-term continuing resolution while those issues get ironed out.
The President continues to have significant concerns about a number of provisions that have been reported to be in the Republican agreement on the omnibus. This includes provisions that would undermine Wall Street reforms, enact extreme social and ideological riders, undercut environmental protections, and threaten the foreign policy prerogatives of the President. Given the magnitude of the legislation — providing over $1 trillion dollars in funding — coupled with the unresolved payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance extension, Congress should pass a short-term continuing resolution as it has seven times already this year so that all parties have an appropriate opportunity to consider and complete all of the critical budget and economic issues necessary to finish our responsibilities for the year.
Some of the specifics here are that the President, to his credit, wants to restore funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, so it can carry out its mandate in financial reform. Also there are riders on the incandescent light bulb, and rolling back travel and remittance allowances for Cuban nationals, among others. So the President wants to either eliminate these riders or continue to negotiate on them, and since there’s no time to get an agreement and pass it, he’s asking for a continuing resolution while the negotiations proceed.
This comes as Democrats plan to cash in their bargaining chip on the millionaire’s surtax in order to get an agreement on the payroll tax cut. But here we have problems arising in the omnibus, so instead of one bill being held hostage, you have two. And there are less than 48 hours until a shutdown occurs.
Meanwhile, everyone has an opinion on how to move forward. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) wants a separate up-or-down vote on the Keystone XL pipeline provision in the bill, which as we know from the State Department will cancel the permit for the pipeline, because they’ve said that if they are forced into making a decision within 60 days, they will say no, owing to a lack of time to properly assess it. Of course, this is far from the only problem that Democrats have with the bill. And I’m sure lots of people want majority votes on lots of things. I, for one, want them on EVERYTHING in the Senate. It doesn’t mean that anyone will give up their leverage on a vote.
I’m not seeing an endgame here, but maybe something will develop at the last minute.