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September 28, 2013

Decision Day For House Leadership On Continuing Resolution

To defund and face a shutdown or not? That's the question facing Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the House GOP caucus now that the Senate has returned the Continuing Resolution, minus the ObamaCare defunding language.

House members in the conservative faction say they have about 80 votes to support their position [put the defund language back in and push the Senate into shutting down the government]. But there are 233 Republicans in the House. What about the other 153? It could be that most of them would like to see some sort of Obamacare measure attached to the new continuing resolution -- either the one-year delay/defund measure or one of the smaller proposals -- but they are more concerned about the possibility of a government shutdown. "I definitely don't want a clean CR," says a House conservative. "But you very well could have a majority of our conference who say, 'Look, let's just get the CR off the table.' There is a lot of fear of a shutdown. The further we try to push the leadership, if they don't think that's realistic, it makes them more likely to do a clean CR."

I'm in favor of a shut down to get the defunding language put back in (and contra Gabe, I think the language that was in the House CR does what ObamaCare opponents want it to do). If that isn't going to happen, it is imperative that the House not pass a clean CR. They have to get something out of this fight before moving on to the debt ceiling/delay fight. If they walk away with nothing from the last two weeks they have already lost the next fight. The GOP has to set a marker that these fights lead to Democratic concessions. Once you beat someone for the first time, you set a pattern and develop momentum.

Assuming we aren't going to get a shut down and a fight to the end from the GOP, what should we want? The Vitter Amendment. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) has an amendment that would force the Obama administration to follow the law and subject Congress, staffers and some members of the executive branch to be subject to the ObamaCare exchanges and pay for their own damn insurance. If the Senate and Obama want to shut down the government to protect their personal insurance programs, that's a fight every Republican and conservative should relish.

Other options are including the repeal of the medical device tax in ObamaCare. That would be disasterous. The idea isn't to make ObamaCare more palatable it's to make it more painful. Yes, the tax is destructive but removing it from the larger program removes a leverage point for the delay/repeal fights.

The big benefit of focusing on the Vitter amendment is that if there's just one demand, and it's one that makes Democrats look bad for opposing, then the politics of a shut down are clear and on the GOP's side. If Reid and the Democrats cave, then it will make life miserable for the people who imposed this horror on the nation.

Either way, it's a win. Not the win we really need but a win. Team Delay will have been forced to stand and fight on the CR and having drawn some blood will make it harder for them to cave on the plan they've been selling all along.

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posted by DrewM. at 10:48 AM

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