For the third time this year, Congress avoided a government shutdown at the last minute. A bipartisan bill was passed in the Senate Monday on a 79-12 vote to keep the government open until November 18th. However, the GOP House, which is on vacation, must approve the measure before midnight Friday.
The House could approve the deal on a voice unanimous consent vote without calling all their Members back this week. If Leadership came in and called the House to order, the measure could be passed unless one of two things happens: someone objects or Leaders do not agree to do so. Given the behavior of the House GOP so far this year, the odds are less than 50-50.
House Republican Leaders are mum on whether they will pass the stop gap measure, or shut her down, something many of the Tea Party Republicans have wanted to do all year. Never before has the government come so close to shutting down so many times as under the GOP majority that took office in January. Boehner supports it, but he has one vote.
Senate Democrats voiced cautions optimism that the Republican House will do the right thing. “It is hard to see how House Republicans could reject this proposal, given the overwhelming vote it received in the Senate,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) according to The Hill.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) added “If they want to go through this again, they are really looking for some more losses. I don’t think this has been a very happy week for my friends in the House.”
Senate Republicans claimed victory even though the Senate eliminated the provisions in the House bill that Democrats objected to. According to The Hill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the final arrangement was a “vindication” for Republicans.
“Before we spend taxpayers’ money, we should have a real accounting of what’s actually needed,” he said. “In my view, this entire fire drill was completely unnecessary. But I’m glad a resolution now appears to be at hand.”
Boehner’s office also claimed victory. “If it weren’t for House GOP efforts, the American taxpayers would have been on the hook for even more reckless borrowing by Washington Democrats,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
The issue that almost shut government down was a provision House Republicans put in the bill which would off set disaster relief by cutting $1.5 billion from green jobs. Democrats in the House and Senate objected to that. The Senate bill did not contain the cut to green jobs, so it is curious to see why Republicans are claiming victory. What ever works.
Not everyone was happy. Senators from states affected by the disasters are upset that FEMA spending was cut in order to avoid a shut down. Senate Democrats and the White House said they plan on restoring the FEMA spending when the spending authorization bill comes up again before the next potential shutdown November 18.
According to the Washington Post, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (VT), whose state was hit hard by flooding from Hurricane Irene, said the deal would solve the disaster issue — but only temporarily. “I’m concerned about the fact that we give blank checks to Iraq and [Afghanistan] and we don’t want to take care of America for Americans,” he said. “It’s wrong, it’s foolish and it will come back to haunt us.”
So now, the fate of the nation is back in the hands of the House, which is on vacation. It seems unlikely that the GOP will force a shut down. Many Republicans are concerned that the public will punish them. They have one to the brink 3 times this year, and that is not what the voters wanted when they gave them a majority last November.
However, Republicans seem to be more interested in defeating Obama than governing, so who knows. Stay tuned.
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