Bad news for anybody hoping to avoid another budget crisis: Late Tuesday afternoon, National Review‘s Robert Costa broke the news that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will cave to the Republican Party’s right wing and introduce a continuing resolution that strips funding for Obamacare. Senate Democrats will block this, and then … well, nobody knows for sure. If somebody doesn’t figure out something by Sept. 30, the government will shut down.
Here’s the good news about the bad news: Boehner ‘s latest move was almost preordained. It doesn’t necessarily mean that national parks, DMVs, or the U.S. Army will have to put up “Closed” signs, come Oct. 1.
It isn’t that Boehner and House GOP leaders prefer to put their names behind a measure that stands almost no chance of becoming law. It’s that they never had a choice. Enough Tea Party conservatives are adamant about attaching a defunding provision to any continuing resolution that they can stymie any Boehner alternative. (They did so last week.) When I spoke to Representative Tom Graves (R-Ga.) shortly before this news broke on Tuesday, he said that more than 60 Republicans had signed on to his one-year defunding plan.
The reason this development isn’t as bad as first appears is that it was bound to happen at some point in the process—and there’s still time to pass the Graves plan (or some variant), see it fail in the Senate, and then come up with a more palatable alternative to keep everything running smoothly. That probably won’t happen without lots of threats, drama and anger. This is Congress, after all. But at least theoretically, indulging the right wing’s desire to pursue its defunding strategy ought to make it easier for Boehner to cobble together a majority for whatever funding bill comes in its wake.