House Republicans made a government shutdown much more likely on Wednesday, when they delayed the vote on a continuing resolution that would fund the government for three months.
Current legislation funding the federal government expires on September 30.
GOP leaders are pushing a short-term deal that would allow the House to vote to defund the Affordable Care Act but allow the Senate to easily strip off that provision, as long as Democrats agreed to budget cuts that would keep the government underfunded at current sequestration levels while restoring cuts to the military. Then, the House GOP leaders promised, they would demand a one-year delay to Obamacare in exchange for raising the debt limit, which expires in mid-October.
But that wasn’t good enough for the Tea Party wing of the party.
With a deadline — and a possible government shutdown — now 18 days away, House Republicans still can’t agree among themselves on a plan to fund the federal government. Does it have to include a measure to defund Obamacare? Should that be a separate proposal? What about sequestration? Should Republicans trade away some of their hard-won spending cuts for a delay of Obamacare implementation? For entitlement reform? For something else? And what about the debt ceiling?
It’s hard to overstate the extent of Republican divisions on all of those questions. Read theWashington Examiner‘s Susan Ferrechio. And David Drucker. And Conn Carroll. There’s simply nothing approaching a Republican majority on some very key questions.
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has promised his caucus that he will not bring any bill that doesn’t have support of a majority of House Republicans to the floor, in adherence to the so-called Hastert Rule, which he has already violated a few times this year.
Hardline Tea Partiers are demanding an all-out effort to stop Obamacare before the law’s health care marketplaces open on October 1 — even though only 6 percent of Americans supported delaying or defunding the implementation of health care reform in a recent poll. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have been campaigning on defunding the law for months, selling activists on the belief that controlling one house of Congress is enough to invalidate the results of last year’s presidential election.
The White House has said it will never agree to any delay or defunding of Obamacare.
Cruz has argued that the conventional wisdom that the government shutdowns in the 1990s hurt Republicans is false, suggesting he thinks it’s an option Republicans should seriously consider.
A new poll suggests Cruz’s thinking is wishful at best.
“Only a third would consider President Barack Obama responsible for a shutdown, with 51 percent pointing a finger at the GOP – up from 40 percent who felt that way earlier this year,” CNN polling director Keating Holland said, announcing the results of a poll released on Wednesday.
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