House and Senate negotiators have moved closer to averting a government shutdown at midnight Friday—close enough that the House will vote Thursday on the continuing resolution. The agreement between House and Senate appropriators will extend funding until Feb. 18. That’s a minor win for Republicans who want to deny President Joe Biden and majority Democrats the ability to spend money on the programs they prioritize, forcing them to continue to operate on 2021’s budget, approved in 2020 and therefore a “Trump budget.” The problem is the Senate, where at least some Republicans—Utah’s Mike Lee and of course Texas’ Ted Cruz—are still trying to force a shutdown over vaccine mandates.
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro announced the agreement with Senate appropriators Thursday morning, saying it “includes virtually no changes to existing funding or policy,” but does include $7 billion for resettling Afghanistan refugees. As to the Feb. 18 deadline, she said: “While I wish it were earlier, this agreement allows the appropriations process to move forward toward a final funding agreement which addresses the needs of the American people.”
Senate Republicans, who really didn’t want a shutdown, figured a slightly cowardly but nonetheless effective way out. They had two members—Hagerty and Thune—leave town so there was no way the anti-vaxx amendment could pass, and there was no danger in having the vote. All the Republicans voted for that amendment, and it failed, 48-50. That allowed them to pass the CR 69-28.
The top Republican on Senate Appropriations, Alabama’s Richard Shelby, released a statement applauding the agreement. “I’m pleased that we have finally reached an agreement on the continuing resolution,” he said. “Now we must get serious about completing FY22 bills.” That, by the way, is not happening because of Republicans. One of those, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), is ready to go, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been attempting to dispatch it this week. Republicans blocked it Monday, and again on Wednesday.
There was an amendment agreement in place, finally, on Wednesday, and Schumer was ready to try again. Florida Man Marco Rubio, however, refused to allow it because one of his amendments wasn’t in the agreement. It’s not in the agreement for a procedural reason: adding it would violate the constitutional requirement that “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House.” The House already passed their NDAA, and would have to start over to add this. Also, his amendment passed in the Senate already in a separate vote. Schumer lambasted Rubio’s stunt as “sad, tragic and almost absurd.” So that’s where we’re still at on FY22 appropriations. The one bill that is ready to go can’t because of Rubio’s asshole tactics.
Speaking of assholes, there’s the gang still trying to force a government shutdown, egged on by Trump surrogate and former Trump budget official Russ Vought since the former guy is still banned on Twitter.
Those guys have little support from other Republicans in the Senate, who have seen the results of this game before and don’t want to go there again. “I think shutdowns almost never work out very well,” Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman Roy Blunt told The Hill Wednesday following a lunch when Republicans fought this out. “There was not full agreement, that’s for sure,” he said on whether to try to force a shutdown.
McConnell, who didn’t bother to engage in that debate, insists the shutdown isn’t going to happen. “We’re not going to shut the government down,” he said on Fox Thursday. “That makes no sense for anyone. Almost no one on either side thinks it’s a good idea.”
The handful of Republicans are holding out the threat of blocking a quick vote on government funding, trying to get a simple majority vote on an amendment to end the vaccine mandate on private companies, and the assholes are getting encouragement from somewhere. Gee, wonder how that could be. Oh right, the Democratic asshole.
Once again, Joe Manchin is screwing his Democratic colleagues and his president, apparently just because he can. His enabling of the Republicans makes it that much more likely the bill doesn’t pass by Friday at midnight, and ensures that there’s at least a short shutdown over the weekend.