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A Government Shutdown Looks Increasingly Likely

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With one house of Congress already on August recess and Republican lawmakers readying a bid to defund Planned Parenthood in September, the chances for a government shutdown are rising on the pundit-o-meter.

Longtime budget analyst Stan Collender on Monday raised his semi-mathematical odds for a shutdown from a previous 40 percent to 60 percent. “It’s now more likely than not that a shutdown will result from the craziness going on in Washington,” he wrote on his Forbes Magazine blog. With few appropriations bills passed, few legislative days left and presidential veto threats looming, “in budget technical terms, the House and Senate leadership will be flying by the seat of its pants.”

On this weekend’s “McLaughlin Group” panel broadcast, where semi-mathematical predictions have run amok since the 1980s, the dialog went as follows:

HOST JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Are we in for Capitol Hill fireworks this fall? Eleanor?

ELEANOR CLIFT OF THE DAILY BEAST: This will be the fall from hell, but not because Speaker Boehner is in any kind of jeopardy. . . They’re going to bump up against the spending cliffs. They’re probably going to shut down the government over defunding Planned Parenthood.

AUTHOR AND COLUMNIST PAT BUCHANAN: You could have a shutdown, I think, of the government in the fall over this big budget bill and what’s been attached to it and appended to it, and it would be utterly unacceptable to the Democrats in the Senate and to, of course, the president of the United States if it ever got to his desk.

MCLAUGHLIN: They’ve got the budget issue. They’ve got the Iran nuclear executive agreement. They’ve got the federal debt ceiling extension. There may be as many fireworks here. This fall, as they were in 2013, as Eleanor points out, or somebody did here, during the 16-day government shutdown that October. You want to predict that?

BUCHANAN: Well, no, I think it’s a pretty good prediction that you could have a train wreck in the fall.

NATIONAL REVIEW AND DAILY TELEGRAPH WRITER TOM ROGAN: John, you’re going to have the . . . Republican leadership who [are] worried about their party’s 2016 ramifications. Then, you have the firebrands. Then you have the presidential candidates who want to generate that Republican anger. So, there’s a division. I think it will go to a shutdown.

(Image via Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com)

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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