John Boehner’s Exit From Congress Makes Government Shutdown ‘Highly Unlikely’
There is no more talk of a government shutdown now that John Boehner has stepped down.
“It makes it highly unlikely,” said Republican John Fleming, a Louisiana conservative who is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, which led the charge to oust Boehner, moments after the Speaker Friday announced he would leave his post in at the end of October.
That’s good news for government workers and all Americans who are anxiously staring at a Wednesday midnight deadline for Congress to approve new money for government operations or face the possibility of a another disruptive shutdown. In 2013, a fight over funding Obamacare triggered a 16-day partial shuttering of the government.
A group of more than 30 House conservatives have told Boehner they would not vote for any spending bill that didn’t bar all taxpayer money for Planned Parenthood, the women’s health care organization that provides abortion services.
Many of these members on the right of the House GOP conference used their threat to topple Boehner as leverage against passing a continuing resolution that didn’t defund Planned Parenthood. But now that the Speaker has decided to go, Boehner can put the bill on the floor without fear of political reprisal.
“It will probably take substantial Democrat votes to pass it,” Fleming said, noting that he and many other conservatives would still vote against it.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters Friday, “The opportunity for a clean continuing resolution is an absolute necessity,” referring to a funding bill that would not affect Planned Parenthood. She said that the stopgap bill from both parties would give leaders from both parties to negotiate on overall budget numbers for defense and non-defense programs, and was hopeful that would lead to a broader deal by the end of the year.
“I don’t think there is a possibility of a shutdown,” said Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a close Boehner ally, who insisted the votes would have been there for a government funding bill even if Boehner had not stepped down.
GOP Rep. Hal Rogers, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, told reporters he expected the House to take up the short-term funding bill that is expected to pass in the Senate early next week.
Senate Democrats blocked a bill this week that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed that would have stripped taxpayer money for Planned Parenthood, so he then set up a vote on a clean spending bill.
Conservatives complained that Boehner frequently passed legislation with the help of Democrats, and that he should instead be focused on pushing a measure that satisfied demands from his own party. Rep. Devin Nunes told reporters he was confident “enough” Republicans will back that measure to avoid any government shutdown.
The legislation would fund the government through Dec. 11, ostensibly giving lawmakers and the White House time to reach a broad agreement on a longer term spending plan for the government as well as an increase in the debt ceiling, passage of a highway funding bill, and possibly hard to achieve changes to the tax code.