As the media fixates on the partisan battle over renewing the soon-to-expire payroll tax cut, the imminent threat of a government shutdown seems to have been lost in the mix. In addition to the payroll tax bill, Congress is far from finalizing an omnibus spending bill that will prevent the federal government from shutting down in three days when its current round of funding runs out:
The increasingly contentious tax dispute threatens to derail what had been an emerging compromise on separate legislation to fund the government through next September, raising the specter of a possible government shutdown this weekend if the conflict is not resolved by Friday.
As they’ve repeatedly done before, the GOP is exploiting the imminent shutdown of the government to push its conservative agenda. On the Senate floor today, Majority Leader Sen. Reid (D-NV) listed many of the GOP demands — including rolling back environmental regulations — that are holding up a compromise on a bill to keep the government’s lights on. “I think that everyone can see very clearly that my friends on the other side of the aisle obviously want to have the government shut down,” Reid said. Watch it:
Reid asked for consent to move to a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open while Congress finishes its work. But Minority Leader Sen. McConnell (R-KY) objected to a short-term CR, despite the looming shutdown. He also blocked the Senate from voting on the House GOP-passed payroll tax bill, despite saying yesterday that they should vote on the bill “without delay.”
A shutdown would affect 800,000 federal workers and halt many government services. This is the third time this year Republicans are using the threat of a government shutdown to get what they want. Indeed, the fact that these brinksmanship games have become so routine is probably part of the reason this imminent shutdown has been largely overlooked.