Multiple sources have told us that Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner plans to fight to keep the slowdown in the growth of spending achieved in the “sequester,” but that he will not risk a federal government shutdown to fight the fight necessary to defund Obamacare.
According to reporting by NRO’s Jonathan Strong, and later confirmed to us by Hill staffers, Boehner indicated to members that defunding Obamacare through the CR “is not the best strategy,” and it came across loud and clear that “he [Boehner] preferred not to use the spending bill to draw a line in the sand.”
Allegedly, the Speaker, while not specifically ruling out a bill to defund Obamacare, or demanding a yes vote in favor of funding Obamacare, told rank-and-file House Republicans on the call that “Our intent is to move quickly on a short-term continuing resolution [CR] that keeps the government running and maintains current sequester spending levels.”
And as Jonathan Strong observed, beyond the CR, in November or December, lies a needed debt-ceiling increase that the House GOP has long planned to use as leverage against the President.
According to Strong’s reporting, confirmed by Hill staffers, Boehner and his leadership team are focused on maintaining the spending levels in the sequester and see that as the better ground upon which to fight.
“The president is desperate to get rid of the sequester,” Strong reported Boehner as saying. “…so desperate that he says he’ll shut down the government if Congress follows the law and funds the government at the levels his sequester mandates.”
“The president’s threat to shut down the government if we implement his sequester is not a defensible position,” Boehner continued according to Strong. “The American people won’t stand for it, and we’re not going to be swayed by it. When we return, our intent is to move quickly on a short-term continuing resolution [CR] that keeps the government running and maintains current sequester spending levels. Our message will remain clear: Until the president agrees to better cuts and reforms that help grow the economy and put us on path to a balanced budget, his sequester — the sequester he himself proposed, insisted on, and signed into law — stays in place.”
We find it difficult to understand the difference between a government shutdown created by a budget battle over the sequester spending levels and a budget battle over Obamacare funding – the National Parks close and all the other things establishment Republicans whinge about happen either way.
Maybe Speaker Boehner has some secret polling data that tells him Americans will pour into the streets in outrage if the sequester spending levels are violated, but aren’t really all that worked-up about Obamacare.
We doubt that’s the case, and our suspicion is that the Capitol Hill GOP leadership has concluded that Obamacare is going to implode under its own weight and that Democrats are too overcommitted (and arrogant) to actually admit it won’t work as is and try to fix it. In that calculation it is better for Republican election prospects to just let the debacle happen while continuing to hold meaningless votes to repeal the mess in its entirety.
This, as Debra Heine over at Breitbart reminds us, is also a big change from 2010 when John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Cathy McMorris Rogers all said they’d stand tall if the day ever came to defund Obamacare.
Boehner’s strong hint that he will actively oppose using the continuing resolution vote to try to defund Obamacare means that the Speaker’s record of folding whenever the opportunity arises to actually use the one weapon the Constitution bestows upon Congress to rein-in the executive branch of government remains intact.