Rumors of a government shutdown once again loom over us like a dark storm cloud, as the GOP decides how they’re going to stop President Obama from acting on his own on immigration. This is in spite of Senator Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) assurances that there will be no shutdown; a stance he took back in August, and then reiterated after the election.
According to an article on Rachel Maddow’s blog, not too long after McConnell promised no government shutdown, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that all options were on the table when it comes to fighting the President’s policies and executive actions.
Congress has to pass a spending bill by Dec. 11 to keep the government running. Spending bills are the GOP’s favorite method of extortion. They create spending bills that contain certain language, strip funding from certain things, or contain ridiculous riders, and then say, “Well, gee, if you don’t want to pass it, then we guess a government shutdown is the only other option. Sorry, but not our fault.” That’s one of the options they’re busy considering when it comes to executive action on immigration.
Conservatives over in the House are pressuring Boehner to refuse funding to any agency that issues visas and green cards under an executive order. Because this spending bill has to pass both houses before Republicans officially take over the Senate in January, there’s a good chance that the Senate will reject any spending bill that cuts funding for those visas and green cards.
According to MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin, Boehner, while reluctant to go down the path of another government shutdown, said:
“Our goal here is to stop the president from violating his own oath of office and violating the constitution. It is not to shutdown [sic] the government.”
To be sure, a lot of Congressional Republicans don’t want another government shutdown. The last one hurt them badly. Another one could be fatal. But voters have short memories, and 2016 is far away. If the last shutdown didn’t hurt them enough to cost them the midterms, why would another shutdown now cost them the White House in two years?
The Hill reports that Representatives Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Ted Yoho (R-FL), and Dave Brat (R-VA), all voiced support for a government shutdown in one way or another. Representative Steve King (R-IA) implied his support when he said that playing politics here is inappropriate, because this is about the President’s oath of office.
The Hill article also says that more moderate Republicans are trying to talk their Teabagging colleagues down off that cliff. That may be why Boehner will neither voice support nor opposition to another government shutdown. Taking a stand either way will cost him votes on the budget bill. He may have to (gasp!) seek votes from Democrats to pass a spending bill that won’t force another shutdown.
This is especially true considering that Representative Hal Rodgers (R-KY) is working on a clean omnibus bill that would fund the government through next September, when the fiscal year ends. Actually passing something like this, and not holding the budget hostage in order to get what they want, could go a long way towards improving the GOP’s current obstructionist image.
There are also those who believe, like they did last year, that the public would blame Obama for another government shutdown. They tried and tried and tried that a year ago, and had the midterm election been last year instead of this one, Republicans would have lost huge because they never did convince the public that the shutdown was the Democrats’ fault. They’d fail to convince the public of that this year, too. What they will do remains to be seen.
Featured image by Thomas Nast, originally published in Harper’s Magazine 7 November 1874. Digital copy via Harper’s Magazine website. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons