Gardner: Gov't shutdown not the "mature" option for majority

How many times can Cory Gardner explain that his answer to a government shutdown is “absolutely not”? We may not know the actual ceiling on that, but not for lack of effort from the Morning Joe crew. The newly-elected Senator from Colorado explains that “a mature governing body” should not have that on its radar at all, and instead emphasizes that Republicans took control of the Senate in order to expedite solutions, not obstruct the process:

This seemed newsworthy enough that rival network CNN covered it:

While House Republicans say every option — including a government shutdown — is on the table to counter Presdient Barack Obama’s planned executive action on immigration, Colorado Sen.-elect Cory Gardner said shutting down the government is something a “mature governing body” shouldn’t even consider.

“There’s no time, place or purpose of a government shutdown or default,” Gardner said Friday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “That’s simply ridiculous and something that a mature governing body doesn’t even contemplate. We ought to make it very clear that that’s simply not acceptable.”

Gardner suggests that obstruction will come from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue:

“To simply say no to everything is unacceptable,” Gardner said. “But I think the President also needs to do the right thing and work with Congress.”

Democrats tried hard to paint the GOP as the Party of No ever since they lost control of the House in 2010. That attack didn’t stick, though, in part because the House did pass a number of bills on issues that actually mattered to voters — the economy, job creation, controlling government spending, and so on. That message got stepped on a bit a year ago in the budget standoff that resulted in targeted agency shutdowns, and GOP polling reflected it — right up until the ObamaCare rollout turned so disastrous that people forgot about Republican attempts to use the budget to stop it.

This time, the ground suits Republicans even more. House bills will get Senate floor votes, and that means Obama will have no one running interference for him on Capitol Hill, especially on budgets, where filibusters don’t apply. Obama can veto a few of these and look like a leader, but if all he ever does is veto Republican bills, he’ll run a huge political risk with the voters who just handed Republicans the keys to the legislature — especially if Republicans restore normal order and produce reasonable proposals.

The GOP has another weapon in its quiver now, too — the Congressional Review Act. The CRA is a seldom-used tool for restraining agencies who try to aggrandize themselves through the regulatory process, allowing Congress to repeal such regulations. Roll Call reminded readers of this option for challenging Obama’s attempts to bypass Congress:

Republicans have already talked about using the budget reconciliation rules to bypass filibusters so they can put spending and tax bills on the president’s desk with their priorities — including potentially an attempt to gut much of Obamacare.

They also plan to use another power to strike at the heart of Obama’s pen-and-phone agenda. Under the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate can vote to block recently enacted regulations, and such votes cannot be filibustered.

Back in 2011, Senate Republicans forced a vote on a resolution to block the Federal Communications Commission’s rules on “net neutrality.” Then-Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, offered the disapproval resolution, which Democrats rebuffed, 46-52. Should the FCC move ahead in the coming year on rules that are in line with what Obama and the White House outlined Monday, Republicans could have the votes to send a disapproval resolution to the president’s desk.

That’s after Republicans from all corners panned Obama’s announcement Monday that he supported viewing consumer broadband as a utility and encouraged FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to ensure net neutrality.

“The president’s call for the FCC to use Title II to create new net neutrality restrictions would turn the Internet into a government-regulated utility and stifle our nation’s dynamic and robust Internet sector with rules written nearly 80 years ago for plain old telephone service,” said Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune. “The president’s stale thinking would invite legal and marketplace uncertainty and perpetuate what has needlessly become a politically corrosive policy debate.”

Actions under the CRA are normal legislation, and have to get the president’s signature to become law. However, Republicans can attach CRA actions to bills that Obama really wants, or to budget items that would be politically uncomfortable to veto. If Obama does nothing but veto CRA actions — and it’s a cinch that the GOP will focus on the most unpopular and ridiculous regulations for maximum political impact — then it will be Obama who will have to defend himself against charges of obstructionism, and Republicans who can call Democrats the Party of No for the next two years — with a lot more justification.