House Speaker John Boehner’s surprise decision to quit lessens dramatically the chance of a federal shutdown next week.
Boehner, no longer needing to worry about his political future, can ignore conservative Republicans who want to block government funding for Planned Parenthood and pass a budget with the help of House Democrats and a relative handful of Republicans by the time the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
Before the Ohio Republican’s announcement this morning, a shutdown seemed imminent. A budget that eliminated money for Planned Parenthood would have been blocked in the Senate or been vetoed by President Barack Obama, leaving the government with no money to keep nonessential programs operating.
But Boehner’s move merely delays the inevitable. Barring more surprises, the new spending agreement will expire in December. That sets up another budget fight that will overlap with the need to raise the federal debt ceiling and a vote to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
And lawmakers will have to do it all over again about this time next year, just ahead of the presidential election to determine Obama’s successor.
No matter who replaces Boehner, GOP infighting won’t cease. The next speaker will still be on a tightrope, trying to appease both pro-business Republicans and the more strident, more vocal tea party types.
So a shutdown remains likely at some point, though it will now probably occur later rather than sooner. When it does happen, most of the blame will fall on Republicans, much to the delight of Democrats and to the dismay of many Republican lawmakers and officials. But others in the GOP welcome a prolonged argument over the party’s future, even if it undercuts Republican chances of winning the White House next year.
When the smoke finally clears, a short-term agreement on the budget will boost federal spending for both defense and domestic programs. The spending caps of sequestration, which led to deep cuts in recent years, remain on the books, but they’ll be breached--if not next month, then later this year, when Congress looks to settle spending through Sept. 30, 2016.
The extra money will help some businesses, especially defense contractors and the legions of subcontractors that scramble for slices of nearly every government project. But the uncertainty over spending in the coming year will sow confusion and might result in job losses. If the Export-Import Bank isn’t renewed, for example, some U.S.-based companies say they will move thousands of jobs to facilities in Europe or elsewhere.
The longer Congress goes without passing a full-year budget, the more power it cedes. The short-term resolutions that have become standard in recent years allow spending priorities to be shaped by bureaucrats who have some authority to move money around inside federal agencies.
Those temporary funding measures won’t end until Obama leaves office. The political atmosphere is too poisoned, and the presidential election is too close on the calendar.
A new speaker – possibly House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the current number two – won’t speed up that process.
Senior Associate Editor Richard Sammon and Associate Editor Pamela M. Prah contributed to this report.
See Our Slide Show: 11 Common Medicare Mistakes
Streaming May Become Less Overwhelming (and Less Expensive) Next Year
Streaming services: We’re about to enter the era of bundles, saving money in the process, study says.
By Jamie Feldman Published
Instacart+ Users Can Now Get Peacock Streaming For Free
Instacart's premium members can now add NBCU's Peacock Premium to their shopping carts — for free.
By Joey Solitro Published
AI Regulation is Looming: Kiplinger Economic Forecasts
Economic Forecasts Find out what Washington and regulators have planned for artificial intelligence.
By John Miley Published
The Biden Tax Plan: How the Build Back Better Act Could Affect Your Tax Bill
Politics Depending on your income, the Build Back Better Act recently passed by the House could boost or cut your future tax bills.
By Rocky Mengle Published
Kiplinger's 2020 Election Forecast
Politics For nearly a century, The Kiplinger Letter has forecasted the outcome of presidential elections to keep readers informed of what's coming and what it means for them. Here's our call for 2020.
By The Kiplinger Washington Editors Published
The 2020 Election and Your Money
Politics We’ve assessed how the presidential candidates’ stances on financial issues will affect your wallet.
By the editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance Published
5 HEROES Act Provisions with a Good Chance of Becoming Law
Politics The massive federal stimulus bill just passed by the House of Representatives is "dead on arrival" in the Senate. But a few proposals in the bill have enough bipartisan support to eventually become law.
By Rocky Mengle Published
Vote by Mail: A State-by-State Guide to Absentee Ballot Voting
Politics With health authorities recommending people continue to social distance, the idea of voting by mail is becoming an increasingly hot topic.
By Rivan V. Stinson Published
9 Ways COVID-19 Will Change the 2020 Elections
Politics The 2020 election will be like no other in history, as the COVID-19 pandemic will upend the business of politics as usual.
By Sean Lengell Published
How to Run for Local Office
Politics If you’ve ever thought that you could do a better job than the elected officials currently in office, here’s how to launch a campaign—and win.
By Kaitlin Pitsker Published