ANOTHER Hostage-Taking Threat To Shut Down Government

Dave Johnson

Just weeks after the “debt-ceiling” hostage-taking, forcing trillions to be cut out of the economy, the hostage-takers are at it again. Now they are threatening a government shutdown, demanding even more cuts in the “continuing resolution” that keeps the government operating. This time they even want to cut the disaster-relief spending that helps people hit by wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

The current government funding runs out September 30. 48 House Republicans voted Wednesday against a bill to fund the government at levels agreed to in the last hostage deal, demanding even further cuts. So the bill failed to pass. Then Thursday night (Friday morning in DC) the House passed a new version of the bill bill that is insulting and unacceptable to Senate Democrats. In particular it cuts disaster spending and green-energy efforts. Furthermore, this budget resolution only funds the government through November 18, setting up for another hostage-taking in November.

Leading up to the Thursday night follow-up vote, TPM reported, GOP Ups Ante Big Time In Government Shutdown Fight,

Instead of cutting a deal with Democrats to keep the government funded, and re-up FEMA’s disaster aid fund, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is trying to build support by dangling carrots before reluctant Republicans and whacking Democrats with sticks.

[...] If the CR passes tonight, Senate Democrats will have to decide whether to dig in, as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has promised, or to fold. Senate Dems want more disaster aid than the House bill provides, and they don’t want to help Republicans establish a precedent of using disasters as leverage to force partisan budget cuts. But they don’t want a shutdown either.

Thursday Night’s Vote

The House voted again Thursday night, passing the bill, but Republicans added language intended to embarrass the Obama administration and insult Democrats in an effort to make them vote against it so they can later claim Democrats are responsible for any shutdown. Now the bill must be passed by the Senate, and then any differences between the House and Senate must be resolved before funding runs out September 30, so Republicans feel they have hostage-taking leverage once again. The Senate wants a “clean” bill, with no poison-pill additions like the ones the House added. The House version, with cuts that go even beyond the results of the last hostage-taking, remains very far from what the Senate can pass.

So this will come down to the wire. Again. And the public’s faith in government will be further eroded. And the economy will take yet another hit as our government’s paralysis is even more apparent.

A NY Times story written before the final vote, For Restless Lawmakers, Accord Proves Elusive, explains,

A small but determined group of conservative Republicans on Wednesday again defied their leaders and brought down a bill to keep the federal lights on after Sept. 30 because it did not meet their demands to make deeper spending cuts.

House Democrats fed up by the Republicans’ past refusal to compromise and outraged over the handling of disaster aid (something some Republicans also did not like) responded with their own hard-line tactics, refusing to supply Republican leaders with the votes they needed to pass the must-pass measure, leaving the government on the brink of yet another shutdown.

Earlier Marketplace ran a segment, On the brink of government shutdown — again, explaining,

This has already played out — and been narrowly averted — twice this year. Now, lawmakers are paralyzed over how to pay for disaster relief. Congress is on recess next week. So if there’s no agreement over this weekend, the federal lights go out on October 1st. Which has businesses wondering and worrying anew whether total government dysfunction is now the new normal.

A Los Angeles Times editorial, Government by brinkmanship, says, “House Republican leaders are managing the budget process in a way that sets up one artificial crisis after another. That’s no way to govern.”

So … we’ll see. One more hostage-taking, more money taken out of the economy, more government employees laid off, more paralysis as the world economic crisis deepens, all so the Republicans will be able to point to a bad economy in the next election.

 

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