Republicans not spoiling for a shutdown fight

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. AP file photo

Congressional Republicans are working to pass a temporary spending bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, Politico reports.

In a bid to avert a repeat of the debt ceiling debacle last summer, Republican leaders in both chambers of Congress are looking to pass temporary appropriations measures to take the government past the elections in November.

In a statement to Politico, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C, emphasized the need for Republican leaders in the House to pass a funding measure to avoid a shutdown just before the elections, which might not play well for the GOP.

“Republicans need to make clear that we don’t want anything to do with a government shutdown,” DeMint told Politico. “We are going to fund the government at the Budget Control Act levels, even though I think they’re too high.”

The 2011 Budget Control Act authorized discretionary spending of up to $1.047 trillion, and also threatened deep across-the-board cuts to spur compromise on a long-term debt plan. With no agreement in sight, sequestration is set to begin on Jan. 2, 2013. This, along with the tax cuts set to expire in January, is likely to make for a busy lame duck session following the elections.

Some Republicans told Politico that given this heavy load and the possibility the GOP could win the White House, it might be good to save the spending fight for next year.

But to pass a stop-gap appropriations measure, House GOP leaders first must address divisions within their own ranks. Some Tea Party representatives are not satisfied with spending at Budget Control Act levels. They prefer the budget plan that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., drafted, which set discretionary spending $19 billion below the Budget Control Act’s cap.

“I think our conference picked the lower [Ryan] number for a reason,” Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, told Politico.

Government shutdowns have not worked in Republicans' favor; the shutdown in 1995 and 1996 helped shape former president Clinton’s reelection campaign. While last year’s near-shutdown resulted in dismal ratings for both parties, Democrats polled better on the issue than Republicans.

“I know that history shows that we don’t win when there’s a shutdown of the government,” Sen. John McCain R-Ariz., told Politico.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec