See, there is no this week in Congress. They're in recess for the Presidents Day week. Yes, it's true that you and I only get one day off for Presidents Day, if that, and the Congress is taking the week.
But for one thing, a Congressional "day off" is a lot different from a day off for you and me. Their "days off" are typically filled with constituent meetings, political functions, even fundraisers and the like. For another, did any of you work past midnight all of last week, and until 5 a.m. on Saturday morning? Because the members of the House did.
Anyway, the point of my posting a This Week in Congress when there is no this week in Congress is to remind you of the fact that there are only two weeks left until the current continuing resolution funding the government (last year's H.R. 3082) runs out, which means a new one has to take its place or else the government shuts down. The House Republicans intend for H.R. 1 to be that replacement. Senate Democrats undoubtedly have different ideas. But whether it's H.R. 1 or something else, there are two weeks left before a new bill has to be in place.
And one of those weeks is being spent in recess.
The House -- typically the more "efficient" of the two houses -- took a full week to get H.R. 1 through.
The Senate, on the other hand, took nearly the entire month of February to finish the FAA reauthorization bill and pass it by a vote of 87-8.
Now, there is a way out, which is to pass a short-term, temporary continuing resolution that will simply buy time until the two houses can resolve whatever differences they may have over H.R. 1 or whatever other vehicle they decide to use. That's the standard practice in these situations. But Speaker Boehner apparently rejects the idea of the House passing even short-term CRs that don't themselves include dramatic cuts. The question is, will those cuts have to be as dramatic as those that eventually made it into H.R. 1? Or will some lesser level of cuts be acceptable?
We'll have to stay tuned to find out. But the answer to that question is what will determine whether or not there actually will be a government shutdown. Boehner's backed out of tough spots before. I'm thinking here of how in September he seemed resigned to the passage of middle class tax cuts, but by December had decided they were "chicken crap." But even there, he had to move from his natural inclination to where the Teabaggers were. With the Teabaggers once again grasping him by the short hairs, will he be able to maneuver, or would he rather force the shutdown he insists no Republican is talking about, but which is actually loudly demanded by the people responsible for his last flip?