As expected, the Senate voted for cloture on the ObamaCare-free House funding resolution, with only 18 other Republicans joining Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in voting against… then promptly stripped out the ObamaCare defunding on a party-line vote and sent the bill back to the House. Fox News sums up the situation:
House Republican leaders are stuck with a tough choice after Senate Democrats succeeded in passing a “clean” budget bill which, contrary to GOP wishes, includes full funding for ObamaCare.
The Senate, capping a dramatic week on Capitol Hill, approved the bill on Friday, after Democrats stripped a Republican-backed provision to defund the health law. The final vote was 54-44.
The bill now returns to the House, and is seen by some lawmakers as a sort of legislative hot potato. If the two chambers cannot agree on a final bill by midnight on Monday, then the government will shut down. Neither side wants to be left holding the bill if that happens.
It’s not a “budget bill,” it’s a continuing resolution, in which the government resolves to continue spending tons of money it doesn’t actually have. We don’t do “budgets” any more, not for over four years now. This is a direct violation of federal law, but it’s not “anarchy” according to Senate Democrats. Anarchy is what happens when you follow proper procedures to modify or overturn legislation the American people don’t want.
Ignoring the law is standard Democrat governing procedure these days. For example, the angry man you see here and there, screaming into a microphone that ObamaCare is the “law of the land,” is the only person actually violating that law, which oddly enough is named after him. Meanwhile, Republicans who voted for cloture, like Senator John Cornyn of Texas, pretend not to understand “how I can otherwise vote on a matter that I want to see passed.” Hopefully he put on a good show of acting surprised when the Democrats ripped out ObamaCare defunding right after the cloture vote passed.
This would probably be a bad time for a visitor from another world to land on the White House lawn and try to figure out American politics.
Everyone wonders what the House will do next. Senator Cruz wants the House to restore ObamaCare defunding and lob it back across the net. Democrats are counting heavily on Republicans losing their nerve and blinking in the face of a government shutdown:
Should Republicans stand by their anti-ObamaCare demands, Democrats have launched an aggressive campaign to pre-emptively blame them for a government shutdown. During a post-vote press conference, Senate Democrats displayed a countdown clock to the “Republican government shutdown.”
Boehner, though, already has indicated he will not accept the Senate-passed bill in its current form. The House is expected to take up the legislation starting on Saturday. If they fiddle at all with the legislation, it will have to return to the Senate for yet another vote.
Amid the fighting, federal agencies are warning about the impact of the looming shutdown. The Pentagon warned Friday that as many as 400,000 civilian workers could be furloughed. Military personnel are not subject to furlough and would continue to work, for the time being, without pay.
Democrats used the doomsday scenarios to pressure Republicans into backing down.
“We’ve passed the only bill that can avert a government shutdown Monday night. I’ve said this on the floor — I say it again: This is it,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said.
But remember, Democrats aren’t the intransigent party. President Obama can thunder that he won’t give an inch, and reporters will respond by asking Republicans why they refuse to compromise. Harry Reid can say “pass this bill as-is, or I’ll shut down the government” while his henchpersons are setting up their “Republican government shutdown” clock. Polls show a significant, perhaps even surprising, number of Americans want spending cuts as part of any debt-ceiling deal, giving the GOP an advantage that Democrats, the media, and certain Republicans will have to work hard to neutralize.
There are a few other moves House Republicans could make, such as attempting to kill the special ObamaCare exemptions for Congress (which does not want to join Americans in the system they insist we’re going to love), nix the onerous medical devices tax, delay the individual mandate until the Obama-postponed employer mandate goes into effect, or delay a more substantial chunk of ObamaCare for a year.
The most curious part of the Republican pushback against Ted Cruz is that he somehow made these alternative strategies more difficult to pursue. That would only be true if Republicans insisted on making it true, flogging themselves until they have enough scars to satisfy the people who hate them. On the contrary, the energy and attention Cruz brought to the struggle against ObamaCare should enhance any strategy short of abject surrender. Democrats have always understood this, which is why they insist on public celebration members who drag the national conversation leftward as bold heroes of principle, no matter what odds their legislation faces. If Ted Cruz was a Democrat, everyone in the party would currently be congratulating him for his courageous efforts to raise consciousness about an important issue, and vowing to keep fighting for the American people, before turning to whatever was next on their legislative agenda.
Also, the Cruz effort represents the sort of high opening bid that Democrats bring to political negotiations – shoot for the moon, settle for the stratosphere. Republicans, on the other hand, like to beat themselves half to death before climbing into the ring. They open negotiations with even less than their constituents wanted, then act crushed and dismayed when they get bargained down to nothing. No wonder they dislike Cruz for violating party protocols.