As I’ve written before, the chance of an actual shutdown was relatively slight despite the public histrionics. There was no major principle at stake, and the big fights on the debt commission and the president’s jobs bill are yet to come. The Post, sure enough, reports: “Senate leaders announced a bipartisan agreement Monday evening that would keep government agencies funded until Nov. 18, potentially ending a contentious dispute over how to pay for disaster funds. The Senate is expected to approve its version of the temporary spending bill Monday evening.” As for the fight about the Federal Emergency Management Agency, both sides agreed “agreed to drop $1 billion in disaster relief funding that had been thought to be necessary to replenish FEMA’s coffers before the week ended, and they have agreed to forgo a $1.5 billion cut to another part of government that House Republicans had insisted was necessary to pay for the immediate dollars for FEMA.”
Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) told me, “Republicans support getting Americans suffering in the wake of natural disasters the help they need - and doing it in a fiscally-responsible way. Washington Democrats attempted to grandstand and delay needed disaster relief to score political points. Republicans stood firm, and Senate Democrats have conceded that the spending level in the House-passed bill was the most responsible solution. If it weren’t for House GOP efforts, the American taxpayers would have been on the hook for even more reckless borrowing by Washington Democrats.”
In a real sense, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) simply folded. A Republican advisor put it this way: “After insisting that they needed the higher dollar figure, and fear-mongering on FEMA running out of money again and again and again, he essentially folded for the umpteenth time.”
The serial fear-mongering followed by collapse (whether on the budget or the debt ceiling) shouldn’t come as any surprise. The Democrats talk a big came to rev up their base, but the impending elections and the public’s distaste for unrestricted spending prevents them from insisting on getting their way. The president’s jobs bill is dead-on-arrival. The shutdown stunt is over. Get ready for the cave on the debt ceiling supercommittee.