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The Train Wreck in Six Days

September 24, 2013

Upon the announcement by the House leadership that it would call up the Ted Cruz wing-nut budget for a vote, I opined that a federal government shut-down had become quite likely. Yesterday the timetable became more precise.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has now laid out the Senate’s schedule for consideration of the House’s wing-nut budget: procedural votes will start tomorrow, culminating in a vote on Sunday to strip out of the bill provisions like the one that would defund Obamacare. Texas Senator Ted Cruz declared his intention to filibuster the House bill, which he ardently supports, to try to prevent the Senate from getting to a vote on the bill’s Obamacare defunding provision.

With key Republicans refusing to support Cruz’s filibuster, it is pretty clear that Cruz will fail. Furthermore, an amendment to the bill cannot be filibustered, so Democrats easily have the votes to remove the anti-Obamacare provisions. The Senate will then pass the amended bill and send it back to the House.

The figuring in Washington seems to be that this timing puts Cruz and his allies in a box, because the House will have only one day, Monday, to pass a budget bill and keep the federal government from shutting down on Tuesday. That may be so, but it’s a box Cruz and his fellow wing-nuts don’t mind being in. You read it here first: the House will not vote on Monday to approve the Senate version of the budget bill.

For the House to approve the Senate bill as is would be seen by Tea Partiers as a surrender – surrender to Barack Obama, surrender to the Affordable Care Act, and therefore surrender to evil. House Speaker John Boehner will not defy the Tea Party. Instead the House will vote on Monday for some variant of the wing-nut budget – maybe a budget that delays Obamacare, even just for the 76 days that the budget bill would keep the federal government running.

The point will be to turn the tables on Democrats – make Democrats choose between a delay of Obamacare that in the grand scheme of things is trivial and a shut-down of the federal government. That bill would go back the House sometime during the day on Monday. The bill won’t pass the Senate, and the government will shut down Monday night at midnight.

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