Marvin Kupfer, a longtime Facebook friend of mine and a fan of President Obama instant-messaged me a question. “Jonathan,” he asked, “is Obama going to stand his ground [or] give something unthinkable away?” Given the complaints from some Democrats during the lame-duck session of Congress last year, I understand where that question comes from. But we got a clear answer to that query not too long ago in the form of a veto threat of a short-term continuing resolution.
The president issued said veto threat against H.R. 1363 — Department of Defense and Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011. “This bill is a distraction from the real work that would bring us closer to a reasonable compromise for funding the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011 and avert a disruptive Federal Government shutdown that would put the Nation’s economic recovery in jeopardy,” said the Statement of Administration Policy.
The bill would keep the federal government going for another week while funding the military, including pay for the troops, through the rest of the fiscal year. But the measure also contains provisions that would strip local and federal funding for abortion in the District of Columbia and would change environmental regulations. That’s a nonstarter for the administration, which said it “would support a short-term, clean continuing resolution to allow for enactments of a final bill.” Hiding behind the troops to get this through is unconscionable.
There is a glimmer of hope that an agreement on a final bill can be reached. The president, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have met every day since Tuesday. They met late last night. They had a meeting at 1 p.m. today, which just concluded. And they’re gathering again at the White House at 7 p.m. The glimmer of hope I see is that they are talking. When they stop talking without a final bill is when you should really worry.