Today, Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced his new dog and pony CR plan to the House Republican Conference. They will ensure that the Senate sends a clean CR without defunding Obamacare to the president’s desk. The catch is that the House will vote to defund Obamacare in the CR, thereby saving members from an embarrassing vote, while splitting off the defund rider when the bill heads to the Senate. The Senate will be able to vote down the defund bill separately and then send a clean CR straight to the President.
So when will they fight Obamacare?
The next time!
Yes, they will fight on the next debt ceiling battle later this year, according to NRO’s Jonathan Strong:
“Towards the end, however, he dropped a big piece of news about the House Republican strategy heading into the next fiscal fight — over raising the debt ceiling. To increase the debt ceiling, Cantor said, Republicans will demand a one-year delay to Obamacare.”
As we’ve noted a number of times, this plan is beyond comical:
- Why in the world would anyone believe you are willing to fight on a harder battle, one which raises the false specter of a default, when you are not willing to fight over a plain government funding bill?
- The CR coincides with the implementation date of Obamacare; the debt ceiling fight will be at least a few weeks after implementation begins.
- If Democrats know that you will always blink out of fear of brinkmanship, why would they listen to you and delay Obamacare? There is no difference between defund or delay if you lack the courage to follow through with the threat.
- Republicans already delayed the debt ceiling fight in January for the explicit purpose of dealing with the CR first. Now they are reversing the order again. Who is dumb enough to fall for this chicanery?
Another issue here is that leadership is trying to use the sequester cuts as the shiny object for the CR. They are saying that the CR will reflect the $967 billion annualized discretionary spending levels set forth in the Budget Control Act along with the sequester. There are two problems with this shiny object, aside for the fact that some random discretionary cuts are inconsequential when compared to the fight over Obamacare.
1) We already won that fight. The entire rationale for punting on the Obamacare fight this past March was so we could lock in the sequester cuts. Well, now they are locked in. We don’t need a double lock.
2) This is not a full-year CR. It will only last until mid-December. In reality, the CR would appropriate $988 billion extrapolated over 12 months. Granted, the sequester will automatically knock it down to $967 billion on January 1, but given that the CR expires before sequestration, there could be an effort to join a sequester repeal or replacement with a clean debt ceiling increase and an omnibus at a higher spending level than the $967 in December.
Why won’t House Republicans just pass a clean CR defunding Obamacare and fight the issue every day until October 1? There is still plenty of time to cave later in the process. At least give Democrats the impression that you plant to fight.
If this is indeed the deal leadership plans to cut, conservatives have no choice but to vote down the ridiculous rule that will be used to sever the defund rider from the bill.