Boehner’s Government Shutdown Dilemma

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The House passed yet another short-term extension of the budget on Tuesday. But John Boehner faced a revolt by 54 Republicans who voted against the bill for not going far enough to slash spending, effectively forcing the GOP Speaker to rely on Democratic votes for the stop-gap measure to pass. As Talking Points Memo‘s Brian Beutler explains, the vote now puts Boehner between a rock and a hard place: either he makes concessions to Democrats to pass a final budget, risking provoking greater fury from the tea party right, or he gives into the GOP’s right flank—risking a government shutdown, as the Democratic Senate is unlikely to pass any bill that guts spending to satisfy hard-line conservatives. 

Conservative Republicans say that Americans will be on their side if they force a government shutdown, insisting they’re simply carrying out the public’s desire for fiscal restraint. But according to a new poll by the Washington Post and ABC News, the majority of Americans say a government shutdown would be harmful—and they’re more likely to blame Republicans than President Obama, a distinct reversal from two weeks ago. The Washington Post explains:

Large majorities in the poll say a partial shutdown of the federal government would be a ‘bad thing'” but each side squarely blames the other for not compromising in the budget negotiations…Among those who say a government shutdown would be harmful, about twice as many say they would hold the GOP, rather than the president, responsible. A similar question two weeks ago showed that about as many said they would blame Obama as the congressional Republicans for a such a stoppage.

So at the end of the day, Boehner’s Republicans have overplayed their hand in gutting the budget, forced to face the wrath of their right flank or the wrath of the public. And Democrats still have a chance to come out on top in this protracted budget battle. 

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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