The President better have some big cojones, because that’s exactly what the Republicans will do. They’ll take hostages. And as we know, the President’s track record on negotiating with hostage-takers is not good. First Sam Stein at HuffPost, then I’ll explain what Sam is talking about:
Congressional Democrats expressed a rare touch of nonchalance Wednesday as House Republicans voted to repeal last year’s health care overhaul, since the repeal has little chance of passing the Senate. Behind the scenes, however, fears are mounting over what appears to be a more serious threat.
Democratic lawmakers tell The Huffington Post that they increasingly expect Republicans to try and freeze funding for the health care law. Such an attempt would face the same institutional hurdles as a straight repeal vote: a non-compliant Senate and a president wielding a veto pen. But whereas the repeal bill’s death would mean — in practical political terms — absolutely nothing, the inability to pass an appropriations bill could have far-reaching effects.
“They are potentially setting up a situation where they will bring government, all of government, to a screeching halt,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said Wednesday. “Not because of the debt ceiling. This is beyond the debt ceiling … If they think they are going to have the end game of their appropriations bills be that they drive health care reform into an early grave … they are literally setting up a full stop for almost everything we will possibly do this year.”
The government is funded via a series of 12 (or so, it’s been changing every few years) appropriations bills. One appropriations bill is for the Defense department. Another is for is for the State Department and foreign aid. Another funds the Labor Department, the Dept of HHS, and the Dept of Education. You get the idea. If the appropriations bills don’t pass, those agencies don’t get their money for the year (unless congress passes a continuing resolution continuing that basically continues funding the govt on a temporary basis at last year’s levels).
Now, what could/would the GOP do? They House Republicans could add language to every appropriations bill repealing health care reform. If the Senate Democrats strip the legislation from the Senate version of the bill, the House Republicans could refuse to vote for the final joint House-Senate bill unless and until the health care repeal is included back in. In the meantime, the government won’t be funded, and will run out of money next October 1st, when the current fiscal year runs out.
And it’s actually worse than that. Because the appropriations bills didn’t get passed last year, the federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution. But rather than pass a continuing resolution that takes us until the end of this fiscal year, the end of September, the current continuing resolution only takes us until March 4. The Republicans could demand that the continuing resolution contain a health care reform repeal.
And I just googled it, and what do you know, that’s exactly what some Republicans are demanding:
A caucus of conservative Republicans unveiled a proposal on Thursday that would trim federal spending by $2.5 trillion over 10 years.
Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Thursday that the RSC will be using the plan as a “marker” in the fight over the continuing resolution that will fund the government after March 4.
Continuing the conservative attack on the Obama healthcare law, the plan prohibits any fiscal 2011 funding from being used to carry out any of the law’s provisions. The proposal also bars the administration from defending the healthcare law in court. A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that the law’s requirement that everyone buy insurance is unconstitutional, and the administration is expected to defend the law on appeal.
And if the Dems don’t agree, the Republicans could simply refuse to pass a continuing resolution, thus shutting down the government March 4.
Which is fine, unless you receive social security benefits, unemployment benefits, veterans benefits, fight in any wars, are a state that uses federal aid to repair your highways, and on and on and on – in that case, your benefits/aid will be shut off. So would our embassies abroad, and military bases, and lots of other things. It wouldn’t be a good thing.
But it’s exactly the kind of thing the Republicans would demand a pound of flesh out of President Obama, knowing that in the past he’s preferred to give important things away rather than stand up to bullies.
At some point, you have to stand up to bullies or their demands get larger and larger and larger.