The House of Representatives did its job, passing a funding bill to keep the government open a week and cover the Defense Department for the balance of the FY 2011. A senior Senate source told me flatly, “I am confident all members of the caucus would support House bill.” It is inconceivable to me that a few Democrats wouldn’t go along. But Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid is likely to refuse to bring it to the floor. Why? He won’t say. Well, because the president said he’d veto it. Why? He won’t say. The bill is precisely the “clean bill” he wanted.
Obama has backed himself, and now Reid, into a corner. Are the Senate Democrats and the White House going to shut down the government for no good reason? Perhaps. What we see here is a transparent and slightly pathetic attempt by the president to take charge. Maybe he should have been paying attention for all of 2011 when the Democratic-controlled Congress didn’t do its job. Maybe he should have gotten into the negotiations sooner. But for now we’ll wait and see.
Well, they could always do a “final” continuing resolution with a bigger cut in spending than the Democrats previously would agree to. The ball is in now in the Democrats’ court. Let’s see how they get out of this one.
UPDATE (4:17 p.m.): Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just released a statement:
“There is nothing in the bipartisan troop funding bill that the House passed today that has not already been agreed to by Democrats in Congress, or requested by the administration. It funds our troops at a time when our military is engaged in three overseas conflicts, it cuts Washington spending by an amount that Democrat leaders have already said is reasonable, and the policy prescriptions it contains have been previously agreed to by nearly every Democrat in the Senate and signed into law by the President. And let’s not forget, this is the only proposal out there that keeps the government open. I also disagree with the President’s characterization of this bipartisan troop funding bill as a ‘distraction.’ If the President wants to shut down the government over this bipartisan troop funding bill, that is his prerogative. But I would urge him to reconsider his veto threat and join us in preventing a shutdown instead. This is the only bill that would do that. He should sign it.”