The economic security of the United States rests squarely on the shoulders of Congress as Democrats and Republicans muddle through yet another episode of economic chicken.
The Senate will take up a House-passed bill this week that both funds the government through mid December and axes funding for the Affordable Care Act.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has already promised he'd strip the provision to cut off funding for Obamacare from the "continuing resolution" bill with a simple majority vote. Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is scrambling to save his own reputation as a conservative stalwart, urging members of his Republican caucus to vote against the procedural vote that would allow Democrats to restore the Obamacare funding.
"A vote for cloture is a vote for Obamacare," Cruz said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. "I think Senate Republicans are going to stand side-by-side with Speaker (John) Boehner and House Republicans, listening to the people and stopping this train wreck."
Cruz, however, doesn't have the backing of many within his GOP caucus. A host of key Republicans have already said they won't stall a bill that keeps the government operating.
Assuming a clean funding bill makes its way back to the House of Representatives by the end of the week, Boehner will then have to decide between abandoning the so-called Hastert rule and passing a funding bill with more Democratic votes than Republican ones or standing with his most conservative members in the GOP conference and making another stand against Obamacare at the risk of shutting down the government.
His conference isn't likely to make the decision any easier. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., the original sponsor of the defund Obamacare continuing resolution, stayed in Washington over the weekend to ensure he would continue to be a major player in the debate.
Boehner's not dealing with a rag-tag group of lawmakers.
Many of the most conservative members who are pushing to gut Obamacare have threatened Boehner's speakership and legacy before; Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., and Rep. Justing Amash, R-Mich., voted against him for speaker at the beginning of the year. Turning away from the most conservative members of his caucus could put Boehner in their crosshairs again.
Boehner may still have one trick up his sleeve, however. With the debt ceiling fight just around the corner, Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., are hoping they can deflect the obsession to stop Obamacare to that fight.
Cantor has said Republicans will fight for tax reform, the installation of the Keystone XL pipeline and a one-year deferment of the Affordable Care Act in the debt ceiling.
The last request reveals just how impossible the GOP knows it will be to rely on the CR to strip Obamacare of its money. If they knew they could win outright with the CR vote, they would have no need to use the debt ceiling showdown to postpone Obamacare for another year.