Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hey, Everyone: We Haven't Avoided Shutdown Yet

The conversation over the last couple of days has moved on from the threat of an imminent shutdown of the government over Obamacare to a possible debt limit breach over Obamacare. That's thanks to reporting by Robert Costa and others that House leaders are pitching that switch to hard-liners. Which is all well and good, except:

1. Costa's an excellent reporter. Nevertheless, it's not entirely clear that he's reporting Congressional leader success -- or Congressional leader spin. It is clear that Congressional Republicans are not going to stand solidly behind Lee and Cruz, but especially in the House if a few dozen Republicans stick with the Lee/Cruz plan, then Boehner can't pass anything with a party-line vote.

2. Even if it's true that the Obamacare showdown has been delayed, perhaps I said the other day, that only brings us back to square one. Boehner still probably wants to find 218 votes for a CR to take to conference, and certainly needs to find 218 to pass a final CR that will also pass the Senate and get signed into law by Barack Obama. It's still hard to see any yes votes out of the hard-liners; it's still the case that the bulk of his conference hates voting with Democrats and against the hard-liners, regardless of substance.

I'm not saying a shutdown is inevitable. If I had to bet, I'd bet on Boehner dodging this one, too. But it's very much a touch-and-go question. It ain't over and won't be until the votes are counted, no matter what Republican leaders wish -- we're still heading for a shutdown confrontation.


  1. On a related note, I can't see a scenario where the sequester as it stands right now survives. Either:

    1) The Senate passes a CR that does away with the sequester and Boehner throws up his hands and passes it with all Ds and some Rs.

    2) The House and the Senate each pass a CR: The House's with sequestration and the Senate's without. The Conference Committee splits the difference, and the final CR with a reduced sequester passes the Senate with 70+ votes and the House with most Ds and a good chuck on Rs.

    If ending the sequester is the priority of Democrats in the CR, they're going to make some kind of progress. Even if there is a shutdown, it won't last forever.

  2. It is worth saying, again and again, that all of this kabuki is only possible because
    a) the base is stupid, incurious, and exceptionally emotionally driven
    b) major figures and "journalists" in Republican and conservative media circles are not willing to speak frankly about the nature of these kabuki dynamics
    c) moderate or pragmatic Republicans and conservatives are unwilling to organize or speak up to demand that their representatives and leaders further conservative goals realistically and straightforwardly
    and d) nonpartisan print and TV journalists are unwilling to explain forthrightly that a major Republican strategy is to carry on a kabuki process within their Congressional dealings.


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