As the federal government shutdown enters day two, there are no signs of a quick resolution. Instead it now appears that this shutdown could last for a couple of weeks and will only be resolved as part of a larger deal to increase the debt limit in exchange for concessions on government spending and maybe even on health reform implementation.
Yesterday House Republicans brought up three bills to fund specific areas of government through December 15th. These “mini-CRs” would allow temporary funding for the National Park Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as allow the District of Columbia to use its own revenue to keep operating. The Democrats dismissed the tactic and reiterated their demand for a “clean” CR free of policy riders that would defund or delay the health-care overhaul. All three measures were called up under a suspension of the rules, which meant they required a two-thirds majority to pass. Only a handful of Democrats broke ranks to support the bills and so they all were defeated. All three measures will be brought up again this morning under regular rules so they can be passed by a simple majority, but they have little chance of advancing in the Senate and also drew a White House veto threat on Tuesday.
All of the political antics over the CR is just the opening act of what many are predicting will be a much bigger battle as the federal government is due to hit it borrowing limit on October 17th. The shutdown could continue until then and used as leverage to bring about a “grand bargain” that would resolve the debt limit, FY14 funding, and sequestration, as well as opening up ongoing negotiations on a long list of policy provisions favored by Republicans. They could include delaying implementation of the health care law for a year, instructions for a revenue-neutral tax overhaul, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, a rewrite of financial regulations, new spending cuts, and other changes.
But absolutely nothing is certain right now except that federal government remains closed and Members of Congress continue to play the blame game.