If the Syrian civil war wasn’t happening and ergo wasn’t taking up such a huge portion of political bandwidth, what we’d all be talking about right now would be the looming budget battle that’s coming as the government’s fiscal year starts anew after September 30th and we run up against the debt ceiling — which the Treasury is currently employing “extraordinary measures” to avoid — some time in the middle of October. No deal means a government shutdown, and Democrats and the media have already taken it upon themselves to heap piles and piles of scorn on the very idea — coming from the oh-so-craven right-wing extremists they claim are running the party — that Republicans use the budget fight as a means to defund ObamaCare.
The Republican leadership has been trying to figure out how they’re going to approach this particular bit of tricky political finagling; Jonathan Strong at NRO broke it down yesterday:
Majority Leader Eric Cantor is trying to thread the needle with a proposal for the continuing-resolution bill that would force the House and the Senate to vote on defunding Obamacare but not make that a requirement for funding the government going forward. …
Under the Cantor plan, the House would vote on two measures, the CR and a resolution that amends the CR to defund Obamacare. Both measures would be brought under a rule that allows the Senate to send just the clean CR to the president, but only after they first vote on whether to defund Obamacare. If the Senate voted against defunding Obamacare, they could then pass the clean CR.
While this would force a politically difficult vote for Democratic senators, it isn’t the do-or-die fight that many on the right envisioned.
It sounds like the definitively concrete plan is still in the making, but the gist seems to be that they’re trying to cut out the absolute defund-or-shutdown tactic that a handful Republicans have been staunchly advocating and instead allow the House to pass a CR whilst at least forcing an on-the-record ObamaCare-funding vote out of their colleagues in the Senate before they can send a clean CR up to the White House.
“I reject the false choice that if you are against shutting down the government you are for Obamacare,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said during the meeting to the hearty applause of at least half of the members attending, according to a source in the room. “We need to give the Senate the opportunity to join us in the fight against Obamacare. This strategy forces the Senate to take a vote and give our Republican colleagues there the chance to fight.”
Said staunch advocates of the do-or-die route were not pleased about this — and I think you know who I mean.
Today, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) released the following statement on the fight to defund Obamacare:
“Last night, news reports surfaced that the House of Representatives might vote to ‘defund Obamacare’ in a way that easily allows Senate Democrats to keep funding Obamacare. If House Republicans go along with this strategy, they will be complicit in the disaster that is Obamacare.
“The American people are not surprised that politicians in Washington–of both parties–are afraid to take a stand. But another symbolic vote against Obamacare is meaningless. Obamacare is the biggest job killer in America, and people are hurting.
“House Republicans should pass a continuing resolution that funds government in its entirety–except Obamacare–and that explicitly prohibits spending any federal money, mandatory or discretionary, on Obamacare. They should not use any procedural chicanery to enable Harry Reid to circumvent that vote.