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The Mahablog

Another Government Shutdown Looms

The Congress Critters are returning to Washington and preparing to take up the next battle in the war over funding the government. The adversaries are the House Freedom Caucus versus Everybody Else.

With less than three weeks remaining before government funding runs out on Sept. 30, Congress has not cleared any of its 12 annual appropriations bills, though there has been more progress than in the recent past. Given the rapidly approaching deadline, leaders of both the House and the Senate agree that a temporary stopgap funding measure will be needed to avert a government shutdown beginning Oct. 1. But that usually routine legislation is facing major obstacles in the Republican-led House, making its path to President Biden’s desk unusually fraught.

Members of the House’s far-right Freedom Caucus are pledging to oppose even a temporary measure if it does not cut funding substantially or include new border controls and restrictions on prosecuting former President Donald J. Trump. At the same time, senators of both parties want the stopgap bill to include billions of dollars in new assistance to Ukraine, a demand that House Republicans are resisting. House Democrats want nothing to do with any of the Republican bills, which have also been loaded with conservative social policy riders that have little chance of enactment.

The major obstacle for Mr. McCarthy is that a significant segment of the hard-right members in his ranks are insisting on conditions on the temporary funding measure that could never clear the Democratic-led Senate even as they call for deeper spending cuts in the full-year spending measures that many of their fellow House Republicans will not support. That internal divide and differences over abortion policy and other issues forced Mr. McCarthy to pull funding measures from the floor just before the August recess.

The House Freedom Caucus has about 41 members out of 222 total Republicans, I believe. Yet they appear to be calling the shots in the House, possibly because the remainder of the Republicans aren’t able to pull together a united resistance. And because Kevin McCarthy is a waste of space.

The FCs are loading up appropriations bills with junk riders about  keeping drag shows and critical race theory out of the military. And some House Republicans want to add amendments to appropriations bills that would “prohibit the use of federal funding for the prosecution of any major presidential candidate prior to the upcoming presidential election on November 5th, 2024,” it says here. And we know which presidential candidate would benefit from that.

Because of the very narrow Republican majority, McCarthy needs a united party to pass anything with only Republican votes. He’s not going to get that. And if McCarthy tries to put together a coalition of not-Freedom Caucus Republicans and Democrats to pass a stopgap measure, the FC members will challenge his leadership. They’ve got him by his boy parts.

The funding dynamic is entirely different in the Senate, where Republicans and Democrats on the Appropriations Committee have been working cooperatively to advance spending bills at a higher level than what is being considered in the House. Leaders of the panel have also kept the bills free of the contentious policy riders that are drawing fire in the House.

The Washington Post reports that the Senate is preparing to take the appropriations initiative away from the House.

After being largely on the sidelines during the debt-and-budget battle in the spring, the Senate is ready to take the lead on the fall legislative session on the outline for government funding and supporting critical national security efforts overseas.

Beginning with a simple resolution to keep agencies open, a bipartisan collection of senators wants to add its priorities to that bill. The group essentially is daring the divided House Republicans to oppose it and take the blame for shutting down the government if the Sept. 30 deadline has not been met.

These senators then expect to use their largely unified position as leverage to get their way in the more detailed agency funding outlines expected in the late fall, while also dominating the split House on negotiations over the annual Pentagon funding policy legislation.

In all, the Senate wants to reimpose its traditional role of regularly jamming the lower chamber into accepting its bipartisan approach to big policy matters.

I take it a majority of Senate Republicans want to continue to fund Ukraine, to increase (as always) the defense budget, and to increase disaster aid to parts of the country devastated by storms and fires. Further, in case the government shuts down October 1 because the FCs have gummed up the works, Senate Republicans have vowed that the nation will know that it’s all the fault of the freaking Freedom Caucus.

As a political act, government shutdowns have a long history of backfiring on the party that caused it. So why is the Freedom Caucus so all-fired eager to shut it down? Because they are idiots, that’s why. They are no more capable of imagining the real-world consequences of anything they do than a toad can sing opera,

6 thoughts on “Another Government Shutdown Looms

  1. Oh toads can sing just not pretty to our ears.

    When I heard we were headed for another shutdown threat, I couldn't help but remark to my friend that this never happened when we were growing up. Never

    Having this suck up oxygen when real problems need addressing is just getting beyond ridiculous egregious .

    I am so sick of the lack of governance and rationality. Now would someone get the Senate to clean up its' antiquated act?

    The confirmation process is completely BS and dysfunctional. As we all know a majority of the scotus lied under oath to be confirmed and the selection process is broken.

    Now the military cannot promote. 371 waiting for confirmation. Laughing stock of the planet. 

    Cannot the Senate set up a confirmation committee that actually does its job? Perhaps a commission that sends recommendations to the senate. A system that actually investigates people instead of rubber stamping.

    Civilization is about to break due to climate change and we are sooo dysfunctional.

  2. “prohibit the use of federal funding for the prosecution of any major presidential candidate prior to the upcoming presidential election on November 5th, 2024,”

    How gracious of them. I'm surprised they didn't limit the prohibition to " prosecution of any Republican presidential candidate"!

  3. The Freedom Caucus wanted to shut the government down from the get-go. GOP senators know from history that shutdowns by the GOP are a surefire way to lose elections. The vast majority of Republicans in the House understand the folly of a shutdown. But the Democrats won't vote for a CR that slashes spending and gives Trump a Get-Out-Of-Jail card. 

    ALL of the House Freedom Caucus (except four) has to crack to re-open gov't with c clean CR. Maybe when hell freezes over. Kevin will have to secure a CR with the help of Democrats. One question is how long the gov't will be shut down before Kevin sees that he has cross the FC. This will result in the FC trying to remove Kevin. I think a Democrat could initiate the call for Kevin's removal and it would take only four Republicans to make it happen. Then they have to select a new Speaker. Such fun.

    Pass the popcorn.

  4. Nothing like a political party that is trying to wreak your country's credit rating when your country needs to borrow money.  They must think they can pay the debts back in crypto coin.  Oh my. Did I use think in a sentence with a pronoun whose antecedent was the word republican?  Silly me.

  5. IMO the GOP money boys are pretty tired of these antics, hence the Senate stepping up its game to corral the nutters.

    Saw Jen Psaki interview Ken Buck – one of the Freedumb Caucusers, who's drawn the ire of Marjorie Taylor Greene. She's doing everything she can for Donald Trump, clearly jonesing to be his Vice President (can you imagine these two?). Buck makes the point that laying out a timeline for Biden's impeachment is pretty absurd, since there's no evidence (so far, he says). Greene first announced Biden's impeachment before Biden was even sworn in – how can he have even committed any "high crimes and misdemeanors"?

    Buck also makes the point that Kevin McCarthy has the slimmest of majorities, which forces him to contort himself around the nutters. Importantly, Bucks says that McCarthy's job is safer than it seems, because nobody wants it under these circumstances. And so we wait for Kevin to grow a pair (good luck with that).

    In other great news, From prime time to lurid tales in a shed: the rapid descent of Tucker Carlson.

    “He doesn’t have the Fox News bells and whistles anymore. And so the result is that he’s basically just Alex Jones in a jacket and tie, trying to concoct conspiracy theories that he thinks his audience will be interested in.”

    Reduced to being just another schmuck with a podcast.


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