Can Congress pass a bill, any bill, to keep the government funded past December 22?
Maybe. If members of the House and Senate are so exhausted by the endless wrangling over Obamacare and tax cuts that they’ll pass just about anything to get out of town without shutting down the government.
The House Rules Committee today sent a bill to the House floor that would extend government funding through January 19. Right now government funding under a previous “temporary” measure is set to expire tomorrow, December 22.
In order to get enough votes from ultra conservative Republicans to pass the bill with only Republican votes Republican leaders in the House had to throw in extra funding for the military. The proposed bill would also suspend an automatic spending cut trigger called PAYGO (pay-as-you-go) so as to would allow spending to exceed budget limits without triggering mandatory cuts to military and domestic programs. For example, PAYGO cuts would require an immediate reduction in Medicare spending of an estimate $25 billion. The committee also approved rules for bringing separate legislation to the floor to provide $81 billion in disaster recovery funding.
It’s not clear whether the House measure can pass the Senate. Some Democratic Senators have said they oppose the waiver of PAYGO Republican Senator Rand Paul has tweeted today that he would “force a Senate vote to keep caps in place.” Republicans can’t pass the waiver, the extra military spending, or the expanded spending for disaster recovery with just Republican votes in the Senate.
Democratic leadership in the Senate is know to prefer a clean short-term extension.
But it’s not clear that a clean extension could pass in the House without some Democratic votes.
The decision may come down to a political calculus of who wins if the government shuts down for the Christmas holidays–and a cynical calculation on whether voters would even notice.