One day after news that the Federal Reserve Bank will maintain its current pace of bond purchasing, Wall Street will once again brace itself as House Republicans are set to vote this week on a temporary funding bill to keep the doors of government open past an October 1 deadline.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it’s not.
The House bill to be considered also contains a measure to defund President Obama’s signature health care legislation, and though it may succeed on the House Floor, the most staunch advocates for defunding the health care legislation know the short-term deal is dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
To make matters even tougher for House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said earlier this week that there’s no plan B in the Senate if all goes awry in the House.
Another problem for Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-California): They’re out of options.
Just last week House leadership tried pushing their caucus towards a clean, temporary funding bill, alongside a resolution to defund Obamacare that the Senate could simply strip or ignore, thus avoiding a shutdown.
Members rejected it.
The version now headed to the floor for a vote ties Obamacare funding to the $988 billion spending bill, setting up another last minute showdown less than two weeks out.
“I don’t want to shut down the government and neither does any Republican and it’s only Barack Obama that is threatening a government shutdown and not advancing any solutions of his own,” said freshman Congressman and U.S. Senate challenger Tom Cotton (R) in an interview with KARK’s Ashley Ketz Wednesday, a sentiment shared by fellow Arkansas Congressman Tim Griffin (R).
“The Obama-Pelosi Democrats are the only ones talking about a government shutdown because they believe it will help distract from the President’s IRS, Benghazi, Syria, NSA and Obamacare debacles,” Griffin said in an email. “They are convinced that if they repeat a myth enough it will come true, but I continue to oppose a government shutdown because it will hurt Arkansans and waste hard-earned taxpayer dollars.”
“The House has brought forth legislation that would fully fund the government, defund Obamacare and stop all the harmful effects it’s having on Arkansas families and businesses,” added Cotton to Ketz.
Democrats have been quick to pounce on Cotton’s comments. Jeff Weaver, campaign manager for Sen. Mark Pryor (D), said Cotton would rather “pretend he never supported a Washington political ploy” and pointed to comments Cotton made earlier this year.
When asked in a January radio interview if he was prepared to shut down the government, Cotton replied, “I think we have to be,” adding, “We have to be willing to draw the line and say that we have a debt crisis in this country that’s caused by two simple facts: We spend too much, and we have too little growth.”
Cotton may say he doesn’t want to shut down the government now, but that doesn’t mean he’s not prepared to do it – along with several other members of the House.
Sen. Mark Pryor on the other hand, the delegation’s lone Democrat, says shutting down the government over partisan policy is thoughtless.
“Any attempt to shut down the government is irresponsible and will hurt our economy just at a time when it is beginning to turn the corner,” Pryor said in an email Wednesday. “I will continue to work in a constructive way to keep the government open and to get things done to keep our economy growing.”
All four of Arkansas’s Representatives say they will vote for the stop gap measure when it comes to the floor, including Congressman Steve Womack, a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
“Congressman Womack is supportive of leadership’s decision to move forward with a CR that defunds Obamacare,” said Womack spokesperson, Claire Burghoff. “Once the House passes this resolution, the responsibility will be on Senate Republicans to ensure Harry Reid does not strip out these provisions.”
Congressman Rick Crawford, according to spokesman Jack Pandol, sees this vote as not only necessary, but also as an opportunity to be up front with Arkansans and the rest of the American people.
“At the very least, Rep. Crawford believes it is critical that Congress is transparent with the American people about what it means to speed ahead with massive new entitlement spending,” said Pandol.
House leadership plans to hold a vote on the current bill, which would keep the government funded through December 15, Friday or Saturday.