Didn’t The One tell us two days ago that the days of short-term continuing resolutions were over because “I can’t have our agencies making plans based on two-week budgets”? Didn’t Reid recite a four-minute sob story on the Senate floor just yesterday about how “the United States of America, this great country of ours, shouldn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck”?
“We’re working on something,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told POLITICO Thursday when asked about the possibility of a Democratic stop-gap measure.
Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) told reporters there was discussion during a Thursday afternoon Democratic caucus meeting about an alternative short-term plan in the Senate.
“It’s always dangerous to predict around here because of the convoluted nature of Senate rules,” he said, “but there will certainly be an attempt to propose an alternative, including the funding of troops.”…
Earlier Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he’d be happy to pass a “clean” short-term spending bill that drops the GOP policy riders.
If they were smart, they’d propose a measure identical to Boehner’s in virtually every respect — same funding for Defense, same $12 billion in cuts — except for the policy rider about banning funds for abortion in D.C. That would isolate the abortion issue and force Boehner to choke on it, knowing that (a) if he caved he’d face a social con backlash and (b) if he didn’t cave then Democrats could claim the standoff isn’t really about cutting spending after all. Or, better still for liberals, if Boehner caved on abortion and didn’t face much of a backlash, that might make him more willing to drop the policy riders from the GOP’s overall 2011 budget. (The Planned Parenthood provision may be more important to him than the provisions about defunding ObamaCare, probably because he knows the Senate will never go for the latter.) But they won’t do that, because even the chump change of $12 billion in spending is too precious to their base for them to concede on. So they’ll offer $4 billion or something in cuts and that’ll give Boehner reason to say “not enough” and walk away, with the media war to begin over whether it’s worth shutting down the federal government to protect $39 billion in spending from an annual budget that exceeds $3.5 trillion. Can’t wait.