Obama Ready, Willing to Cause Government Shutdown

The White House issued a veto threat on any stopgap measures.

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For weeks the Congress has been working on a plan to keep the government up and running through the end of the current fiscal year. Sort of. 

The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed a long term continuing resolution to fund the government through the end of September but the Senate has refused to take it up. Instead the government has been kept open by a series of short term measures, the latest of which is scheduled to expire on Friday. [ See 10 effects of a government shutdown.]

In anticipation of a potential shutdown, the House has again proposed another short term measure that would cut an additional $12 billion in spending over what has already been cut this year, add an additional week of funding for the government and fund the U.S. military--which is currently embroiled on three different conflicts--through the end of the year. 

The measure is intended to keep the government running while negotiations continue between the House, the Senate and the White House. It seems, on its surface, like the responsible thing to do. But President Obama apparently doesn’t think so.

On Thursday the White House issued a veto threat, saying:

The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 1363, making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, and for other purposes. As the President stated on April 5, 2011, if negotiations are making significant progress, the Administration would support a short-term, clean Continuing Resolution to allow for enactment of a final bill.

For the past several weeks, the Administration has worked diligently and in good faith to find common ground on the shared goal of cutting spending,” the threat continues. “After giving the Congress more time by signing short-term extensions into law, the President believes that we need to put politics aside and work out our differences for a bill that covers the rest of the fiscal year. This bill is a distraction from the real work that would bring us closer to a reasonable compromise for funding the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011 and avert a disruptive Federal Government shutdown that would put the Nation’s economic recovery in jeopardy. The Administration will continue to work with the Congress to arrive at a compromise that will fund the Government for the remainder of the fiscal year in a way that does not undermine future growth and job creation and that averts a costly Government shutdown. It is critical that the Congress send a final bill to the President’s desk that provides certainty to our men and women in military uniform, their families, small businesses, homeowners, taxpayers, and all Americans.  H.R. 1363 simply delays that critical final outcome.

If presented with this bill, the President will veto it.

In short, that means President Obama is prepared and willing to shut the government down.

House Speaker John Boehner responded to the veto threat with a strong statement of his own, indicating he intends to keep following the course he has taken thus far--which has been designed, against the advice of his critics within the GOP, to keep the government running. [ See political cartoons about the budget and the deficit.]

I have just been informed that the White House has issued a veto threat on a bill that would keep the government from shutting down, without stating a single policy justification for President Obama’s threatened veto. Neither the President nor Senate Democrats have identified a single policy provision they find objectionable in the bill. The bill the House is considering today would fund our troops through September in the face of three conflicts and keep the government from shutting down tomorrow, while reflecting meaningful reductions in government spending that are widely accepted by both chambers of Congress.  As I have said before, Republicans’ goal is to cut spending to help create a better environment for job creation--not to shut down the government.

We will send this bill to the Senate today,” Boehner promised, “confident that those Democrats who believe it is important to fund our troops and make real spending cuts will prevail upon Senator Reid and our Commander-in-Chief to keep the government from shutting down.  The President and Democratic leaders have all committed to working with Republicans to cut spending.  A bill that falls short of that commitment cannot pass the House.

We will soon know who is right and who has the support of the American people. A new Pulse Opinion Research poll for Let Freedom Ring, where I am a senior fellow, indicates that by a 43 percent to 30 percent margin, voters would hold Democrats rather than Republicans accountable if an impasse over the budget were to lead to a shutdown in non-vital U.S. government operations, which is probably not good for Obama’s hopes for re-election.

In what was already a high stakes game, the president has just gone “all in.”