No, it’s not our failure to read the tea leaves that threatens a government shutdown. But when we updated you on the spending situation last week, we thought that the House leadership would move a government funding bill that avoids a fight on Obamacare. They didn’t.
Instead, the House last week passed a spending bill that would fund the government through December 15th but that disallows spending to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
H.J. Res. 59, the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014, funds the government through mid-December, defunds Obamacare, and prioritizes debt payments if the government shuts down.
(The cost of running the government through December 15th? A little over $7,000 per U.S. family.)
The House’s goal is to let blame fall on the Senate if the government shuts down. “Democrats in the Senate want Obamacare so bad that they’ll hold up spending on everything else in government just to keep it going.”
The Senate, meanwhile, is going to try to pass a bill that doesn’t defund Obamacare. Sending that bill back to the House may make it look more like the House’s fault if the government shuts down.
Katy, bar the door. It’s time to fight!
You’re the referee. If you go and vote on H.J. Res. 59, be sure to leave a comment explaining your vote.
At this writing, the vote is running pretty strongly against the bill. But is that because people don’t want that much spending? Because they don’t like the House’s plan? Or did the votes come in before H.J. Res. 59 had the Obamacare defunding provisions in it?
Comment on the bill or comment below. Let people know what you think!
Last week, we heard from the office of Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) with a response to a recent post on all these spending issues.
In “Your Last FY 2014 Spending Update,” we noted the appropriations subcommittee chairmen who hadn’t moved a bill this year. Rep. Kingston was one of them. But he wanted to.
In a letter he sent to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) late last month, Kingston argued for moving his Labor-Health and Human Services spending bill and against the use of a continuing resolution to try to defund Obamacare.
“I have spent the bulk of this year preparing legislation that meets all the primary goals of our conference. This legislation is far stronger than a continuing resolution,” Kingston wrote.
And he wasn’t understated about the day’s hottest issue: “The bill COMPLETELY DEFUNDS OBAMACARE.”
There’s almost always more to the story, and our assessment that Kingston had failed to move a bill was simplistic. He has to work with others to get that done, and we see that at least in late August he implored House leadership to move his bill.
It’s good to see Rep. Kingston arguing for following the regular schedule on spending bills. Following the schedule and avoiding last-minute spending battles would give the public more opportunity to oversee what the Congress does—a good thing no matter where you are on the issues.
We don’t know whether Rep. Kingston heard about our reporting from a constituent or just saw it online. The lesson for WashingtonWatchers is that members of Congress do pay attention to what people think, and they want us to know better how they’re working to represent their districts in Congress. All is not lost for democracy. Thanks, Jack Kingston!