Come crisis time, it’s the time-tested method for playing it safe. You issue a mealy-mouthed statement about how “both sides are to blame” for not reaching a deal. You say both Democrats and Republicans need to compromise, and you claim magnanimity in your support of a “balanced” compromise. You write “Come together” on your coffee cup.
But this time around, that’s all nonsense. Where you place blame for the shutdown depends entirely on how you answer its fundamental question: Do Republicans have the right to demand policy concessions — namely, Obamacare concessions — in exchange for extending the federal budget?
If you believe that Republicans deserve policy concessions, then responsibility for the shutdown rests entirely with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, President Obama, and their fellow Democrats.
After all, when it comes to Obamacare, the run-up to shutdown saw House Republicans take big steps toward compromise. They started the debate demanding Obamacare be entirely defunded. Then they moved to a request that the health care law be delayed a year and its medical-device tax permanently repealed. And by their third and fourth attempts, Republicans were attacking only the law’s subsidies for Congress and the administration — a crucial aspect for beltway residents, but a purely symbolic blow on the national level.
All of them, from gutting the law to pricking it, got the exact same reaction from Reid: no deal.
But if you believe Republicans are responsible for keeping the government open, and they don’t deserve any policy perks for doing so, then the shutdown blame is theirs and theirs alone.
Within that paradigm, Republicans are demanding something for nothing. They’re demanding changes to Obamacare without offering to back any of Democrats’ top policy priorities. No gay marriage, no gun control, no higher tax rates for the highest earners, no public option, no nothing.
And from a purely fiscal perspective, the policy-free budget extension is a straight-down-the-middle compromise. It doesn’t include the further spending cuts Republicans covet, nor does it include any Democratic priorities such as additional funding for domestic programs or a reverse of the sequester.
So you can believe that Republicans forced a shutdown by taking the government hostage to muscle through changes they couldn’t get through regular order. Or you can blame Democrats for refusing to make any changes whatsoever to Obamacare in exchange for keeping the government open.
But you can’t blame them both.
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"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.