The finger-pointing continues as Congress enters the eighth day of the government shutdown and there doesn’t seem to be a resolution in sight.
Tuesday began with President Barack Obama daring House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to pass a clean Continuing Resolution (CR). Boehner has insisted that such a measure can’t pass the House, but President Obama wants the Ohio Republican to “prove it.” Yes, folks, Washington is apparently governing by double-dog dares.
The Washington Post noted yesterday that are enough moderate Republicans willing to join Democrats to pass a clean CR. But that’s questionable. While there may be enough House Republicans unhappy about the stalemate, they’ve rejected a procedural trick by Democrats to bring the measure that President Obama wants to the floor.
The interesting aspect in all of this is that President Obama, despite all of his rhetoric, has distanced himself from the CR and debt ceiling debate. The Hill noted yesterday that the White House is now deferring to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), putting him in charge of negotiations with House leadership. For his part, Reid is has been just as unwilling to move from his position as the White House.
It’s not like he has anything better to do, given that he’s cleared his schedule. This is a spectacular leadership failure from the White House and it once again shows that President Obama is more interested in campaigning and giving speeches rather than getting his hand dirty by governing.
While it’s true that President Obama won re-election, that doesn’t mean that the White House gets whatever it wants from Congress. That’s not how government works, nor is it how the framers of the Constitution intended it to work. House Republicans maintained their majority in 2012 and have a role in the policy process, whether President Obama and Senate Democrats like it or not.
Other Shutdown News
House Passes FDA Funding: House Republicans continued their piecemeal approach to funding the federal government by passing an appropriations measure for the Food and Drug Administration. The Senate is expected to ignore the measure, as they have with the other appropriations bills passed by the House since the government shutdown began.
Senate Republicans Slow Down Pay for Federal Workers: A few days after the Republican-controlled House passed a bill guaranteeing pay for federal workers during the government shutdown, Senate Republicans put the brakes on the measure, noting that it doesn’t address the “underlying problem” that Congress faces.
Debt Ceiling Coming Into Focus: The government shutdown, though still prominent in the news, is becoming less of a focal point as attention has turned to the debt ceiling. The White House has indicated they’re open to a short-term increase, which would give all sides more time to chase the unicorn of a “grand bargain.” That undermined the efforts of Senate Democrats, who had been working on an increase that would get the government through 2014.
What About Joe?: In case you hadn’t noticed, Vice President Joe Biden has been really quiet since the government. Why? Because congressional Democrats didn’t like previous deals that Biden had worked out with Republicans.
China Warns U.S. on Debt Ceiling: China, the United States biggest foreign creditor, urged Washington to breakthrough the impasse on the debt ceiling before the October 17 deadline. Wall Street is also getting in on the acting, though they’re targeting members of Congress rather than the White House.
Forget Default, the National Debt is the Real Problem: David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, explains that the federal budget, which has doubled in 10 years, and the $17 trillion national debt show the “real dysfunction” in Washington. “[T]he real problem is not the dysfunctional process that’s getting all the headlines, but the dysfunctional substance of governance,” writes Boaz. “Congress and the president will work out the debt ceiling issue, if not by October 17 then a few days later. The real dysfunction is a federal budget that doubled in 10 years, unprecedented deficits as far as the eye can see, and a national debt bursting through its statutory limit of $16.699 trillion andheading toward 100 percent of GDP.” This one is definitely worth a read.