• Government Shutdown Averted... For Now
  • October 26, 2015
  • Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
  • Speaker of the House John Boehner’s stunning decision to resign the Speakership and from Congress at the end of October prevented what many Republicans feared would be a politically devastating government shutdown. This week, both the House and Senate passed a temporary spending bill that funds the government through December 11 of this year.

    The short-term continuing resolution (CR) passed the Senate 78 to 20 and then cleared the House on a 277-151 vote, despite the opposition of dozens of conservatives with objections to any package that continues to fund Planned Parenthood. Indeed, without the votes of Democrats in the House the CR would have failed with all 151 no votes coming from the GOP.

    While the short term CR only pushes off the possibility of a shutdown until December, there is some hope in D.C. that Republicans and Democrats can come to an agreement in the next few months for a longer budget deal, clearing the decks for the next president.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he spoke with President Barack Obama and Boehner last week about “getting started” with negotiations for a two-year budget so the Republican-led Congress can have a regular appropriations process next year. Senate Democrats have blocked appropriations bills this year over complaints that the spending levels laid out in 2011 are too low, especially for domestic programs.

    These negotiations, if they happen quickly, could get a boost from Boehner’s lame duck status. With nothing to lose, Boehner could be free to push a deal forward that would rely on Democratic votes to get done.

    Members are already turning their eyes to December, when the Senate hopes to pass appropriations bills based on a spending deal with the White House. But House conservatives, emboldened by Boehner’s resignation, may be even more difficult to corral on a deal that will almost certainly raise spending levels above sequestration caps for both defense and nondefense spending.

    Several Republican senators following the vote on Wednesday said they were already worrying about the Christmas holidays and whether they’ll be able to leave Washington to visit their families and avoid a government shutdown.

    Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) acknowledged the difficulty of passing spending bills again this December, given the fractious state of relations between the House and Senate. But, he added, the leadership teams aren’t changing much and he’s hopeful that Republicans in both chambers will get a good deal for the party that can pass.