Just a few days ago, there was ample reason to believe a government shutdown was unlikely. The process was unfolding as if it had been scripted – the House passed its far-right version, which the Senate fixed and sent back. All the House had to do was pass the Senate version, keep the government’s lights on, and we could all move on to the next Republican-imposed crisis. At least temporarily, it was going to be relatively easy.
But that’s apparently not going to happen.
House Republicans unveiled a plan on Saturday that would keep the government open until Dec. 15 in exchange for a one-year delay of Obamacare – an idea Democrats have vowed to reject.
The House GOP’s decision to drive a hard line on health care means a government shutdown is practically inevitable on Oct. 1, since Democrats in the Senate have vowed to reject it.
Specifically, House Republicans, apparently acting at Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) behest, have demanded a temporary spending bill that would (a) delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act for a year; (b) repeal the health care law’s medical device tax, which means Republicans hope to add over $100 billion to the deficit over the next decade; and (c) provide funds to U.S. troops in the event Republicans shut down the federal government.
And if Democrats fail to accept this offer, Republicans will, of course, have shut down the government, just as they did in 1995, and just as they said they wouldn’t do if given power again.
Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) reportedly told his fellow conservative colleagues, “I said, like 9/11, ‘let’s roll!’”
You see, in the deluded minds of unhinged lawmakers, they’re the heroes, vowing to shut down the federal government unless Democrats start taking away health care benefits from working families.
It’s a level of stupidity that hardly seemed possible, and yet, here we are.
Under the circumstances, I’d put the odds of a shutdown now at about 95%.
Because the shutdown deadline isn’t until Monday night, there’s still time for the Senate to reconvene and reject this new House bill, and there are rumors the upper chamber will meet tomorrow to do just that.
As for the House GOP approving their shutdown scheme, the vote is expected between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. (ET) tonight. [Update: The most recent reports suggest the vote won’t be on the floor until even later in the evening.]