Federal Relations

September 28, 2015

Boehner’s Retirement Means CR Likely to Pass

With Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) surprise retirement announcement on Friday, the forecast for Congress to actually pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) and keep the federal government operating are better than ever. Last week, prior to Boehner’s announcement, the Senate failed to pass a CR because the legislation included language to withhold any federal funds going to Planned Parenthood. With the failure of that Senate bill, the path was cleared to have the Senate pass a “clean” CR, meaning a measure without political policy riders such as the Planned Parenthood language.

While something may pass the Senate, passing a clean measure in the House was always going to be more challenging given the Republican caucus. Many Republican House Members had declared that they would never vote for a measure that allowed Planned Parenthood access to federal funds.Conservative Republicans have demanded such a provision, but it has already failed in the Senate and the President has pledged to veto it.  Further, the same Members have vocally castigating the Speaker for “compromising” on legislation and working with the House Democratic caucus to craft a bill that would pass the House. Rhetoric prior to the retirement announcement was similar on the CR for potentially eliminating Planned Parenthood language.

Boehner stated shortly after his retirement announcement that he would ensure the House would pass a clean CR, which would fund the federal government until December 11th. Additionally, Boehner has said that he will rely on Democratic support to pass a CR in the House.

While Friday’s announcement may avert an immediate shutdown, what happens later this fall is far from clear. The threat of another funding funding cliff is more than likely, with the expiration date of the short-term CR potentially coinciding with the debt ceiling fight and the expiration of tax breaks. There’s also the highway bill, two major education bills, and reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Congress has until midnight September 30th to pass an appropriations bill to keep the federal government running.

Meanwhile, Boehner’s retirement has set off a scramble for the House Republican Leadership positions, so who will land where, in what role, and how they will handle the ever polarized caucus remains to be seen.