Government Shutdown Increasingly Looks Likely
Get ready for a government shut down. That sentence is for this site’s readers. But it’s also the gist of what Republican bigwigs are telling their rank and file in Congress and what President Barack Obama is telling his colleagues. With each passing hour, a shutdown seems more likely.
Or is it? Will there be yet another resolution to keep the government operating temporarily. And, if one is put forth, will it pass — or be defeated this time since there are clearly some House members salivating at the idea of shutting the government down? And would the White House accept yet another funding stopgap? Initial signs: No.
President Obama is scheduled to meet with Congressional leaders today to discuss ways to keep the government funded for the rest of the fiscal year as lawmakers work around the clock to avert what would be the first shutdown in 15 years.
Days away from the deadline, Republicans and Democrats are at a stalemate over what should be cut in the remainder of the fiscal 2011 budget and by how much.
Meanwhile, federal agencies are putting together contingency plans in the case of a shutdown, which last happened during the Clinton administration in 1996.
White House officials have started telling agency and cabinet officials to begin informing managers about shutdown plans.
“We are aware of the calendar, and to be prudent and prepare for the chance that Congress may not pass a funding bill in time, OMB [Office of Management and Budget] today encouraged agency heads to begin sharing their contingency plans with senior managers throughout their organization to ensure that they have their feedback and input,” OMB spokesman Ken Baer told ABC News’ Jake Tapper.
Speaker John Boehner’s office on Monday also directed House Administration Committee chairman Dan Lungren to issue guidance to all members on how the House would operate if the government shuts down.
ABC’s TV report:
Meanwhile, the Huffington Post reports that the White House is saying thumbs down to any stopgap funding proposal:
Congressional GOP leaders said on Tuesday that the Obama administration has informed them that it will oppose a last-ditch stopgap funding measure proposed by House Republicans to keep the government running for an additional week.
The Obama administration would neither confirm nor deny the reports. “That is getting ahead of the process,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said, when asked about a one-week continuing resolution. “We believe that we can reach an agreement on funding for the full year if we sit around the table with good faith efforts to approach this in a reasonable way.”
That said, on Tuesday morning, GOP lawmakers and aides from both parties on the Hill said that the administration had made its opposition to the measure clear.
“The White House has indicated now that they have already rejected that notion, which is raising the risk of government shutdown,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters. “We in the House have said consistently that we don’t want to shut government down, we just want to decrease spending.”
The stopgap measure, which would have cut $12 billion in government spending while funding the Pentagon for the remainder of the fiscal year, was pitched by GOP leadership as a mechanism to at least prolong negotiations over a long-term continuing resolution. But it was written, largely, on the Republican leadership’s terms and ignored repeated statements from the White House expressing concern about funding the government on one or two-week aliquots.
A top congressional aide told The Huffington Post that White House officials relayed their opposition to House GOP leadership in a phone call on Monday night citing both a lack of seriousness in the proposal and the de-linking of Pentagon funding from the rest of the budget. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney would only go so far as to acknowledge and repeat the administration’s criticism of short-term funding measures.
Charlie Cook, writing in The National Journal, says GOPers are starting to get nervous.
However, talking with Republican pollsters, strategists and veteran campaign professionals recently, I now hear sounds of concern that haven’t been heard in almost two years.
Among the worries the party now has is that a government shutdown could get blamed on the GOP. Additionally, these party insiders believe that taking on entitlements, specifically Medicare, could jeopardize the party’s hold on the House, its strong chances of taking the Senate and the stronghold that the party has been established with older white voters—not coincidentally, Medicare recipients.
It’s clear that the Republican congressional leadership believes that a shutdown is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. These are intelligent and reasonable people who have studied the mistakes Republicans made after they took control of Congress in 1994. They are determined not to replicate those mistakes.
While the GOP has worked hard to bring their freshmen and more ideological members around to the realities of politics, these freshmen and other rank-and-file members are getting pressure from back home not to compromise with Democrats.
These constituents don’t want any more short-term deals, and their pressure is offsetting the efforts by the party’s leadership to do things step by step so as to not jeopardize the party’s chances for gains in the Senate.
Who will win out? And will the side that looks like it wins really lose?