Assuming we make it through Wall Street imploding, terrorist attacks and another round of presidential debates, Congress is eventually going to have to come back into session for the Fall and they’ve got a lot waiting for them. The Democrats are in no mood to be accommodating from their place in the cheap seats so there were always going to be some fireworks. The real question is… how bad will it be? Deirdre Shesgreen at USA Today has a summary of things to look for this autumn and a few of the items on the list will likely further serve as distractions and chances for the GOP to take their eyes off the ball. Perhaps forewarned is forearmed, so we should be ready for a few of them.
The first and likely biggest question is whether or not there will be another government shutdown this time around and, if so, who gets the blame. The big driver here is the massive appropriations bill.
Boehner and his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., want to keep the caps and are laying the groundwork to pass a stopgap spending bill that rolls all federal appropriations into one big package. That emergency legislation, however, could get caught up in controversial “riders” — amendments aimed at changing policy on everything from abortion to the Confederate flag to immigration.
Many Republicans, for example, would like a must-pass spending bill to include provisions blocking Obama’s immigration actions and environmental regulations. Others want any omnibus spending bill to include an amendment that strips federal funding from Planned Parenthood. The reproductive health care provider has come under scrutiny after the release of undercover videos in which Planned Parenthood officials discussed providing tissue from aborted fetuses for research.
We all know how this tune goes by now. When the Democrats were in charge they would draft and float an appropriations bill with all sorts of taxes and riders that the Republicans didn’t like. If the Republicans balked and refused to pass the proposal the government would be near a shutdown and the GOP would be blamed. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, if the Republicans put forward a bill with riders that the Democrats don’t like and they refuse to allow it to pass… the GOP still gets the blame. It’s a great system if you’re a liberal.
Many of these rider items are very much worth having a debate over and bringing to the floor for a fight, including the Planned Parenthood question. (Which we already did, as you’ll recall, but we lost.) But should they be attached to “must pass” legislation when you can’t get them past the Democrats and the White House on their own merits? A lot of conservatives will say yes because they see nothing wrong with a government shutdown. But as we’ve learned, the media will spin it to be the GOP’s fault anyway and the public tends to buy it. The real answer is to win the White House, but that’s a ways off yet.
Another thorny issue will be the transportation bill. Speaker Boehner wants to get a long term bill put through, but the Senate version currently up for debate includes the resurrection of the Export-Import Bank as a rider. (By the way… this is why we can’t have nice things, Mitch McConnell.) We need an answer on this one which is better than what the Senate is offering and we need it quickly. And the Speaker is dealing with this at the same time that Mark Meadows is still trying take his gavel away.
The final, big ticket item is the Iran deal. That’s coming down to the wire and somebody is going to come up only a few votes short. At this point I’d still put my money on the Democrats caving in sufficient numbers that Obama’s veto will survive. But then… I’m kind of cynic that way.
In any event, read through the rest of Shesgreen’s list and let us know what you think. They can’t all be losers for the GOP, but some of them spell trouble for sure. And if they serve as enough of a distraction for the media to stop paying attention to the Democrats’ woes, well… you know how that plays out every time.