Government by stopgap, via Robert Costa:
Multiple GOP senators tell me House Republicans will likely pass a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government into early October. “It’d be a short-term, clean CR,” as one describes the legislation. “It’d fund the government for one week or so and keep us talking,” says another senator. “I think that’s where they’re moving right now.”
Remember, under the current Senate schedule, Boehner won’t have anything from the Senate to work with until Sunday night at the earliest. Cruz is reportedly under intense pressure from Senate Republicans not to object if McConnell tries to yield back some debate time going forward in the name of letting the House act sooner. But even if that happens, there’s still not enough time left for Reid and Boehner to strike a deal on O-Care. So they’re going to punt for a week while they keep talking. Which makes me wonder: If House conservatives agree to some lesser deal on O-Care — say, Vitter’s plan to force Congress and staff to buy insurance on the exchanges without federal subsidies — would Cruz and Lee accept that or will they continue to (futilely) oppose anything short of defunding? I’m assuming they will, if only in the interest of mending fences at that point, but who knows? If Cruz is the new “president of conservative America,” as I saw written somewhere today, then maybe he needs to vote no on a deal all the way down.
Roll Call is reporting that Boehner et al. are also weighing a one-year delay to ObamaCare’s individual mandate as a fallback option once the “defund” bill is dead. Politico reported that this morning too. Senate Democrats won’t go for that, though, or at least not without a lot of pressure, which makes me think maybe Boehner will pursue a longer stopgap CR of two or three weeks to buy time to apply pressure before the next shutdown deadline rolls around. If you want to sell the public on the eminently reasonable idea that it’s unfair for business to get a break from ObamaCare’s crapola regulations for a year but not individual taxpayers, it’d be nice to have more than a few days to do it.
Exit question: Jim Geraghty wonders if Cruz’s goal all along wasn’t defunding O-Care, which was impossible given the make-up of the Senate, but rather “cementing the public’s perception that Obamacare is entirely a Democrat-run production, and that fixing the problems it creates will require the election of the Republican opposition.” Is the public going to come away with that impression, though, after multiple Republicans vote against Cruz on Reid’s clean CR this weekend? Former party nominee John McCain is delivering rebuttals to Cruz on the Senate floor, for cripes sake. If “Republicans are the answer” is the message Cruz wants to push, having a big internal Republican war between RINOs and true conservatives is a bad way to do it. I think his message is that tea partiers, specifically, are the answer — but if enough tea partiers end up demoralized by the failure of the defunding effort that they stay home next year to protest sending the RINOs back to the House, you could end up with Democrats doing better than they otherwise might have. Ironic.
Update: Remember that NBC story about Rand Paul privately arguing against the Cruz “defund” strategy? Here’s an interesting clip via MFP of Paul not squarely denying that when asked about it by Glenn Beck. The takeaway here isn’t that there’s some sort of rift between Cruz and Paul; there’s no reason to believe that given Paul’s support for Cruz last night. The takeaway is that even Paul seems skittish about the political fallout for the GOP from a shutdown.