House Democrats have said they don't want to help pass a continuing resolution that funds the government at sequester levels — unless it's a very short-term bill and there's a promise to begin negotiations to eventually lift the spending caps.
At the moment, it looks like they're not going to get concessions on either front.
Whether it's in time to avert a government shutdown on Sept. 30 or a few days later, Republicans in both chambers are sooner than later expected to give up on thwarted attempts to pass a CR that defunds Planned Parenthood and instead move a "clean" bill that funds government through Dec. 11 at the current spending levels.
That's longer than Democrats wanted, and stakeholders report there haven't been any serious bipartisan, bicameral discussions among appropriators and leaders about the process of undoing sequestration for fiscal 2016.
However, House Democrats are looking increasingly disinclined to take an adversarial position at the moment, opting instead to take the high ground next week in order to keep federal operations afloat.
House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters Wednesday his caucus would probably be willing to view "in a favorable light" a short-term CR which spreads sequester cuts evenly among defense and domestic programs.
"Under those circumstances, it might well enjoy our support," Hoyer said, though he cautioned he and his colleagues still had to review the details and see what the Senate is able to actually pass.
Hoyer also said that while he had wanted lawmakers to pass a CR with a sunset date before the Thanksgiving holiday instead of at the precipice of the Christmas season, "three weeks, one way or the other, is not going to make a difference in terms of if we have a responsible CR that is in fact clean and maintains last year's treatment."
This is good news for Speaker John A. Boehner, who needs all the votes he can get to help him keep the government open on Oct. 1. Though the Ohio Republican has commitments from fellow leaders, allies and 11 GOP freshmen to do what it takes to avert a shutdown, as many as 50 House Republicans have pledged to oppose any CR that doesn't defund the embattled women's health organization that provides abortions.
But Hoyer made it clear House Democrats weren't doing this for Boehner, who still has to make a decision about whether his speakership can survive presiding over passage of another bill that relies heavily on Democratic support.
"The Republican Party continues to be a deeply divided party, and this is another reflection of that deep division," Hoyer said, "and our solution is a very simple one: Put Democrats back in charge, get back to rational government, get back to common sense, get back to a party that's unified.
"Speaker Pelosi and I, as the majority leader, we had 218 votes on every proposition that we put on the floor," he continued. "We were a unified party. We're still a unified party."
As for Republican dysfunction, Hoyer said, "it's not our responsibility to try to solve their divisions."
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