The dome of the Capitol is reflected in a puddle in Washington, Feb. 17, 2012.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Boehner resignation changes the shutdown calculus

Updated
As recently as yesterday, another Republican-imposed government shutdown seemed almost inevitable. GOP leaders had a decent plan to pass a short-term spending bill that would keep the government’s lights on, but far-right opposition to the solution was significant enough that the strategy was likely to fail.
 
To avoid a shutdown, something truly dramatic would have to happen – something like the Speaker of the House announcing his resignation in the middle of his term.
 
All of a sudden, the shutdown that seemed unavoidable will be, well, avoided. The Washington Post reported that it now looks like “there won’t be a government shutdown – at least not yet.”
Republicans said Thursday that the House will vote next week on a stop-gap spending bill to fund the government after Sept.  30, without the controversial language that would defund Planned Parenthood.
 
Dozens of House Republicans acknowledged the plan on Friday after the closed-door meeting where Boehner (R-Ohio) made the bombshell announcement that he’ll resign as speaker at the end of October. The strategy all but ensures there will be no imminent shutdown and leaves any future budget battles in the hands of new leadership.
What about the far-right House members who said they’d kill any stop-gap measure that includes Planned Parenthood funding? Those threats have quietly been scaled back.
 
Indeed, a separate Washington Post piece added that “several” members of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus – the same 42-member group of House members who were pushing aggressively for a shutdown – said “they will now support the spending bill without demands that it include language to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood.”
 
Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said, simply, “The commitment has been made that there will be no shutdown.”
 
Boehner’s decision to quit is consequential in more ways than one.
 
The good news, then, for those hoping to avoid a shutdown is that next week’s legislative process should be relatively straightforward. (At least, that’s how things appear now. These days, very little is certain when we’re talking about congressional Republicans and their plans.)
 
The bad news is that this temporary spending bill – known as a “continuing resolution,” or “CR” – will keep the government’s lights on through early December, at which point federal policymakers will once again face another shutdown deadline.
 
Watch this space.
 
Disclosure: My wife works for Planned Parenthood, but she played no role in this piece.
 

Government Shutdowns, John Boehner and John Fleming

Boehner resignation changes the shutdown calculus

Updated