Political Animal


September 23, 2011 8:00 AM House GOP pushes for another shutdown crisis

By Steve Benen

When the House Republicans’ temporary spending measure (or CR, for “continuing resolution”) failed on Wednesday night, the GOP leadership effectively had two broad options. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) could move to the middle, stop playing games with emergency disaster relief, pick up Democratic votes, and resolve the dispute. The threat of a government shutdown would disappear, and lawmakers could enjoy a week off.

Or Boehner and Republican leaders could move to the right, make the spending bill worse, pass a plan they know will be rejected, and invite another government shutdown crisis.

Which course did the GOP leadership choose? Take a wild guess.

Washington lurched toward another potential government shutdown crisis Friday, as the House approved a Republican-authored short-term funding measure designed to keep government running through Nov. 18 that Democrats in the Senate immediately vowed to reject.

In an after-midnight roll call, House Republican leaders persuaded conservatives early Friday morning to support a stop-gap bill nearly identical to one they had rejected just 30 hours earlier.

“Nearly identical,” but not entirely. Boehner and Republican leaders followed through on their threat to hold disaster aid hostage, but bought off some far-right votes by adding $100 million in cuts to a Department of Energy loan program the GOP loved until a few weeks ago.

So, instead of trying to reach a sensible compromise, the Speaker and his team deliberately chose to invite yet another standoff that threatens to shut down the government. Indeed, GOP officials told reporters last night they would promptly leave town today to make the threat more explicit — either the Senate approves the House bill or the government shuts down in seven days, because House members won’t be around to even try to reach a deal.

Of course, Senate leaders are saying exactly what they’ve been saying all along: they’re not going to pass the House bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will kill the House version today, and will probably urge House leaders to stick around and do their jobs rather than leave town.

All of this, by the way, is just to keep the government’s lights on until November. Americans, for whatever reason, have elected ill-tempered, right-wing children to run the House of Representatives, and the result is not only one crisis followed by another, but a government that struggles badly to even complete the most basic of tasks. Indeed, yesterday, GOP leaders could have very easily chosen a more responsible course and ended the burgeoning fiasco, but they made matters worse on purpose.

If House Republicans do promptly flee to the airport today, and the Senate rejects the House measure as expected, President Obama will likely call members back to Washington early next week. The shutdown deadline is Friday, Sept. 30, at midnight.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Bill on September 23, 2011 8:05 AM:

    I would like to rephrase some of your text Mr. Benen.

    Ill-tempered, right-wing children have elected ill-tempered, right-wing children to run the House of Representatives.

  • Brenna on September 23, 2011 8:09 AM:

    I'm pretty speechless. I do hope Reid follows through and kills their bill, forcing them to stay. But I'm sure the arrogant house republicans will take off today as they said.

  • c u n d gulag on September 23, 2011 8:09 AM:

    Obama calling them back will again make him look like the adult in the room.

    And I wonder how many Teabagger House members will stay home if Obama calls, having one of their usual snit fits?

    They're begging Obama to top Harry Truman's "Do Nothing Congess" by having to run against House Republcians who abandon their jobs - "An Abandoned Republican House" is worse than a "Do Nothing Congess."
    Or, call the Republicans "The Do Worse Congress."

  • Hedda Peraz on September 23, 2011 8:13 AM:

    So-called "Conservative" Republicans sold out cheap. 100 billion cuts to energy? Political pocket change! They should have included impeachment in the bill.

    And, when they go home, they should go instead to undisclosed locations. Take a page from the dirty dems in my beloved Tejas, during redistricting. If The Obomination can't find them, he can't drag they back to the Big Swamp on the Potomac.

    Who needs, them, anyway? President Bachmann will let us keep ALL our money!

  • delNorte on September 23, 2011 8:17 AM:

    @gulag: I was just about to post the same thing...

    We need to come up with a new term for this Congress, because it's not doing nothing - instead it's trying to undermine its very existence. How about the "Kamikaze Congress."

    Wikipedia: The aircraft's normal functions were put aside, and the planes were converted to what were essentially manned missiles in an attempt to reap the benefits of greatly increased accuracy and payload over that of normal bombs. The goal of crippling as many Allied ships as possible, particularly aircraft carriers, was considered critical enough to warrant the combined sacrifice of pilots and aircraft.

  • low-tech cyclist on September 23, 2011 8:19 AM:

    The shutdown deadline is Friday, Sept. 30, at midnight.

    Nobody will really notice if the government is shut down over a weekend, and September 30 falls on a Friday. So for all practical purposes, the deadline is Sunday, October 2.

    Not sure how late the House can pass something in time for the Senate to vote on it and Obama to sign it in time to authorize government workers in the Eastern time zone to show up at work Monday morning, but however late that is, that's the REAL deadline.

  • Danp on September 23, 2011 8:24 AM:

    If Republicans leave, does that mean they are calling for recess? And if so, can Obama appoint people to key positions? If nothing else, it would put a double exclamation point on the term "obstructionists." Take it to 'em hard, Dems.

  • low-tech cyclist on September 23, 2011 8:26 AM:

    @gulag: And I wonder how many Teabagger House members will stay home if Obama calls, having one of their usual snit fits?

    I can see it now: the President calls Congress back into session per Article II, Section 3. And the teabaggers thumb their nose and say, "this isn't an 'extraordinary Occasion'," or "he can convene Congress, but that doesn't mean we all have to be there," or some crap like that.

    Yeah, that'll make 'em look really grown up.

  • lou on September 23, 2011 8:29 AM:

    Cantor has been teeing this up for weeks now. Plan A follows on the success of Plan A. And next week Boner will say he got 98%. Exceptional. Fail.

  • AndThenThere'sThat on September 23, 2011 9:02 AM:

    Yes, everybody will be outraged at those "ill tempered children" pulling a stunt like this.

    Especially those low information voters who were told on the Today Show this morning how the House passed a spending bill but Harry Reid vowed to block the bill because it contained "cuts" to green technology. And of course the Today Show made this proclomation directly on the heels of a lengthy piece over the Solyndra scandal in which they painted the "administration" in a very poor light.

    So other than some progressive bloggers, most people are going to draw the conclusion that the democrats are shutting down the government because they want to continue pissing away taxpayer money on bad loan guarantees.

    This Solyndra debacle just teed up the GOP for an easy victory, because the lazy MSM simply refuses to do its fucking job.

  • Politi-Chick on September 23, 2011 9:32 AM:

    the House approved a Republican-authored short-term funding measure designed to keep government running through Nov. 18 that Democrats in the Senate immediately vowed to reject

    Sounds like it's the Democratic Senate that's risking a shutdown...

  • DisgustedWithItAll on September 23, 2011 10:08 AM:

    Don't mean to brag, but hey, I called this layup yesterday.

    And idiots like the above Politi-Chick will blame it on Democrats. Here's the truth: Boehner could have had near unanimous Democratic support had they not once again Tea-hadists changed the way of doing things in an offensive, obnoxious way.

  • zandru on September 23, 2011 10:10 AM:

    But this is Good News for the Republicans

    No, really. First, is that money quote from "Politi-Chick" that explicitly blames Democrats. Remember, when it's Republicans who are at fault, the media style guide mandates saying "Congress" (or the House, or the Senate).

    Second, there's the disastrous debt ceiling debate. Hey! Democrats caved on (insert long list of atrocities against liberal programs) to bail out THE BANKERS, didn't they? But they won't give up ANYTHING to help reg'ler folks who are HURTIN' after a disaster.

    Works every time.

    "avapar beauti". Yep, that just about describes the Repub strategy.

  • KSS23 on September 23, 2011 10:20 AM:

    Can somebody please tell me what Americans can do? I know we can vote them out but 14 months is too long for this to keep going on unchecked. The news Corps are turning a blind eye to the GOP ruining our country and we the people are suffering because these GOP are being rewarded for doing nothing. Writing, calling, yelling at them nothing helps. The President can't do their jobs for them. Obviously they are hell bent on ruining our nation just cause someone they dislike is President. What are we gonna do? :( scared, sick of this. They ran on jobs yet have done nothing to create jobs actually the jobs loses started again under John Boehner's watch.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on September 23, 2011 10:21 AM:

    @Danp: "Take it to 'em hard, Dems."


  • DisgustedWithItAll on September 23, 2011 10:26 AM:

    @KSS23: I think you've pretty much put your finger on it. I've felt for some time now, that all this has a pre-war Germany feel to it. Failing mass protests, and that won't happen, we're pretty helpless. And believe me, if you've ever tried to reason with a wingnut, you'll understand we already have our brownshirts.

  • Spring Texas on September 23, 2011 10:48 AM:

    I wish I didn't think so, but Obama and the Democrats will probably cave AGAIN. When will they learn that that only encourages them and is why we are seeing this crap NOW?

    Hope I'm wrong. Boy do I want to be wrong!

    Blackmail doesn't stop until you don't pay it.

  • All2well on September 23, 2011 12:32 PM:

    @SpringTexas Its mind sets like yours why the GOP continues this crap. They know the Dems and President Obama will be falsely blamed by folks like you. The false "cave" meme is what small minded, non thinking people spread in order to give republicans a pass.

  • bigtuna on September 23, 2011 1:25 PM:

    As of now, the senate tabled the house bill - with only 36 repubs voting for it. Huh. So the fastest solution, sitting on the table, is fo the house to take up the senate bill, which would get the dem house votes, and need 35 ish repubs. But that won't be made clear in the news, will it?

    So... what now?? IS the house really going on recess? and does the prez. then have to call them back?

    what galls me is that the news always states "congress failed ..' what is so fucking hard about saying " republican efforts today stymied a bill to ....

  • LA Crystal on September 23, 2011 11:24 PM:

    I am seriously beginning to think the Republicans are addicted to chaos. Just look at how often they drag things out until it's 'CRISIS! Shutdown! Default!'

    Quite a few of their own party is sick of it and have given up on them. No true conservative would behave this way.