At this point it looks like there’s virtually no chance that the so-called “Cromnibus” funding measure will be able to pass the House. John Boehner clearly doesn’t have the votes to pass it along party lines, and Nancy Pelosi and many Democrats have come out hard against it. At issue, as we learned yesterday, is a provision that would gut a key provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that could once again put the FDIC, and thus all of us taxpayers, on the hook when banks engage in the same risky derivatives trading that caused the 2008 financial crash. The White House Budget Office is preparing for a shutdown and basically pleading with Democrats to vote for the bill, which you can understand in the sense that President Obama doesn’t want to be a 2 shutdown president and is willing to toss some principle aside toward that end. The administration’s argument to House Democrats basically boils down to “hey, it could be worse” and “this is the best we can do,” which may be true but isn’t exactly a rallying cry.
And that’s just the House. If this thing gets to the Senate with the Dodd-Frank provision still there, Elizabeth Warren may well decide to filibuster. She may not have the votes to sustain a filibuster, but at a minimum she can delay a vote for up to 30 hours, which means some kind of CR will still be needed to avoid a shutdown at midnight.
The last-ditch play to keep the government from shutting down is a short-term continuing resolution. Whether that will work probably depends on how long the proposed CR is. House Democrats are in a position where they have some leverage right now but much less once the new, more Republican, Congress is seated, so a CR that runs into the new year would be good for the Republicans, who could probably demand even greater concessions to avoid a shutdown then. Pelosi would have little to gain politically from going along with a months long CR as opposed to a stopgap CR that covers the next few days, but she’s also got to consider the damage the party could accrue from shutting the government down at Christmas. I’m down with fighting for strong regulations on Wall Street, but, I’m sorry, it’s some next-level BS to put government workers out on their behinds two weeks before Christmas.
Republicans have reportedly proposed a one week CR, so that may be where this winds up, but other reports are saying three months, which will be a harder sell for Democrats.
It’s hard to argue that we have the most dysfunctional government on the planet when there are countries engaged in actual civil wars out there. Maybe we should say that it’s the most voluntarily dysfunctional government on the planet, because nobody’s forcing them to govern by crisis like this.
UPDATE: The House passes the CRomnibus by a razor thin margin. Hey, media? All those “Democrats in disarray” headlines you guys like to write so much are actually applicable now. Anyway, maybe Wall Street bankers can finally catch a break, right?. On to the Senate!
UPDATE 2: And the Senate passes a 2 day CR to give itself time to debate the House bill. In true Festivus Miracle tradition, they’ll likely allow everybody to air their grievances tomorrow before voting to pass the CRomnibus on Saturday. Even though I have serious misgivings about repealing Dodd-Frank protections, I say this is the right outcome. Another shutdown would have been outrageous, particularly right before the holidays.