Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Read the news this morning, gotta blog.

So a government shutdown is pending. No one wants it. Republicans know they'll get blamed for it, regardless of their bluster, and Democrats just generally don't like shutting the government down.

Maybe Trump wants it, but who can trust what he says?

So there's a deal the Republican leadership has in place to kick the can down the road again for a month. The deal includes funding the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for 6 years, and delays some taxes in ACA that aren't particularly popular.

Now normally this would not be a terrible deal. It cuts taxes for awhile and funds a key, popular program past the point where Trump can possibly fuck it up. But we do not live in normal times.

There are a lot of Republican factions that hate the deal. Defense hawks are adamant that Congress can't keep the military on continuing resolution (CR) spending (read: month to month) and are opposed to any short-term deal. The Freedom Caucus is demanding more tax cuts and are being dicks as usual. So there's a fair chance that Paul Ryan might not be able to pass a bill without Democratic support.

On the Democrat side, there's a lot of pressure to address DREAMers in a spending bill. Right now, they have a lot of leverage to get that done, but that might not be the case in February. And it's tricky for them to oppose a CR that funds CHIP.

So the first hurdle is if the House Republicans can pass the CR on their own. If they can't, it's not clear Pelosi will be able to hold her caucus to oppose it - it'll probably depend on the margin Ryan needs to push it through.

Either way, Democrats will have to help pass the CR through the Senate with 9 votes. And there are enough Democrats in red states to make shutting the government down over DREAMers a dicey proposition.

And Trump could blow the whole thing up, of course.

So, my take:

Most likely the CR will pass with both sides declaring a small win and lambasting the other for playing politics. CHIP is a big sweetener.

But, that assumes Ryan can get his team together. House Republican politics are ugly and averse to compromise, and Ryan knows he'll get shitcanned out of the Speaker slot in short order if he starts going to the minority for help. If he doesn't, I give 50/50 odds Pelosi refuses to bail him out without significant payment, and Ryan definitely won't go that route.

If the CR makes it to the Senate, I have no doubt it will pass. And if it goes to Trump's desk for signature I don't doubt he'll sign it; or if he doesn't, the Democrats might vote to override him out of sheer pique.

All of this of course overlooks the fact nothing being debated here should be controversial in a sane and rational society. But we've got what we've got. God knows what February (or the debt ceiling!) will bring.

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