This is actually a pretty big deal:
In a major escalation of a slowly building fight over funding the government, the White House has warned House Republicans, in no uncertain terms, that the government will shut down in September if the GOP does not adhere to an agreement they cut with Democrats in August during the standoff over raising the nation’s debt limit.At issue are the Republican threats to renege on last August's debt limit deal. Despite agreeing to spending levels for the next decade during that agreement, Republicans have subsequently refused to commit to honoring the deal. Unless they honor the deal, they will effectively be creating yet another hostage crisis, forcing a government shutdown unless they get their way on spending. The statement from the White House makes it clear President Obama isn't going to play that game, effectively saying that it's up to Republicans to honor the deal—or accept the consequences of shutting down the government.
“Until the House of Representatives indicates that it will abide by last summer’s agreement, the President will not be able to sign any appropriations bills,” writes Jeffrey Zients, acting director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, in a letter addressed to congressional appropriators Wednesday.
By forcing the issue now, President Obama is forcing the GOP to put its cards on the table early. If they agree to abide by last August's deal, the appropriations process should be able to continue without drama. But if they refuse to accept the deal, then they will be taking responsibility for the ensuing budgetary chaos—and the damage it will do the economy. Obama's move also boxes in Mitt Romney. Romney would no doubt love to wait until the fall and play a high-profile role in walking Republicans back from the brink. But by moving now to force Republicans to make a decision, the White House is effectively taking that option of waiting away from Romney. If he wants to play a role in talking Republicans away from the brink, he needs to do it now. Otherwise, he'll be as responsible as they are for whatever happens in the coming months.