It’s brinksmanship as usual on Capitol Hill.
Bowing to Tea Party pressure in his caucus, Republican Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday agreed to have the House once again vote on defunding Obamacare in exchange for funding the government through the end of the year. The measure has no chance of going anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate--as has happened some 41 times already when the House voted to repeal President Obama’s landmark healthcare initiative--and puts a government shutdown entirely within the realm of possibility.
Unless lawmakers can come to an agreement on a spending bill, which won’t happen if defunding Obamacare is on the table, the government will shut down on Oct 1, the beginning of the government’s fiscal year.
Speaking at a business roundtable on Wednesday, President Obama called Republicans’ actions “irresponsible.”
“I’m happy to negotiate with [Republicans] around the budget, just as I’ve done in the past,” he said. “What I will not do is to create a habit, a pattern, whereby the full faith and credit of the United States ends up being a bargaining chip to set policy.”
Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democratic member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said this strategy Boehner is choosing to uphold will be a losing one. Even if Tea Party members go back to their constituencies as heroes, she said, it could cost the GOP its majority in the House. Boehner, who is calculating how to hold onto his speakership, may find that the decision won’t be his caucus’ to decide.
“My Republican colleagues are really interested in cheap theater, but this has become the theater of the absurd,” said Speier on NewsNation Wednesday. “I think what we’ve got going on here is survival of the membership, in terms of being reelected to Congress, or retaining their speakership, and damn the American people here, damn the economy.”
“The result is going to be just devastating,” she said.