Here’s a quick primer on the Monday, September 30th Senate vote that was pretty predictable and an updated addendum as a consequence of that vote and the Republican-dominated House reaction. In the dry governance of a voice vote, the motion to kill the House Continuing Resolution to fund government if implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was delayed a year was defeated, placing the political pressure right back on the petulant Republican House.
The 54-46 majority means that the government does not keep operating until November 15th. It means that come Tuesday, one second after midnight, there could be a very painful partial government shutdown. The possibility became reality as the midnight hour struck when Republicans carried out their threat. After the Senate vote, veteran Senator, Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski, clicked off a number of agencies that will be impacted by the absurdity of a resolution deliberately crafted to force a negative Democratic Senate vote; all the easier for the far right to convince the low information Republican crowd that the Democrats are at fault. Here are some of the agencies on Mikulski’s list: The Army Corps of Engineers, the SBA, potential student loan problems , 70% of NIH federal employees (research and funding), the FDA (food safety), the Department of Commerce and other agencies deemed unimportant by right-wing Republican standards.
You must be aware that the bought and paid for radical Tea Partiers in the House of Representatives have now shut down those and other portions of the federal government as “non-essential.” Another Senate speaker, Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill has accused the radicals of not even allowing a House vote on the question. The right-wing bottom line, no delay in Obamacare, no government services across a broad spectrum.
Don’t worry about Social Security or the Medicare and Medicaid programs; they’re safe from prying Tea Party claws. Their funding is not renewed annually. While the money will still be sent out, SS personnel will be in short supply if you have any questions or need any other help or information. The military will also be paid. While law enforcement, defense, and air traffic control are immune to closure, so-called non-critical agencies will close their doors and a goodly number of federal workers (an estimated 800,000-1 million) will be furloughed, able to catch up on their Soap Operas thanks to thoughtless, mostly Republican, legislators who will be sacrificing no money or benefits of their own.
Repeating what Monday’s vote entailed: House Republicans recently passed legislation (continuing resolution) approving short-term funding while striking a benign tax on medical devises and, more importantly to the extremists, delaying the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) by a year and extorting Democrats into agreeing to stop ACA in its tracks by exchanging near-term funding for a vote in favor of the ACA delay. In that year GOP radicals will give over 24/7, 365 days to figuring out how to kill it altogether. Senate Democratic leadership has now moved to stick that nonsense where the sun don’t shine. Besides, the American people are on the side of the Democrats on the issue of keeping government doors open.
Even as a partial shutdown comes to pass, the state health exchanges will be open as advertised Tuesday, October 1st. Most pundits agree that there’s also no way in hell that the president would allow his pet ACA program, indeed, his legacy, to be defunded under any circumstances.
A pre-vote Q & A session on C-Span with Maryland Democratic Representative Chris Van Hollen was most revealing. Van Hollen had some stark responses; open and honest answers that you rarely hear in the specifics Van Hollen offered.
He talked about Republicans, blocking bi-partisan Budget Committee hearing requests over a dozen times. Van Hollen is the ranking Democratic member. He called the Republican Caucus the center of power in the House. He said House Speaker John Boehner has been “feeding the beast.” Translation; Boehner does everything he’s told by the Tea Party-controlled caucus. Perhaps the most interesting political intelligence I heard was the fact that Van Hollen is persuaded that wackadoo Senator Ted Cruz is dictating Republican Party policy across the board.
Van Hollen further observed that the House is totally dysfunctional and that House members are unwilling to stand up to the far right ideologues of their party. Rarely have I heard as candid a set of public statements directed at House colleagues by a Representative.
The Congressman accurately presaged that the House Republicans would refuse to cooperate or compromise on any attempts to come to some agreement on either the partial shutdown or the real 800-pound gorilla in the room; the possibility of a total government lockdown that would have horrifically negative implications for the U.S. and world economies just as America and most countries are taking baby steps of economic recovery from the Bush debacle. It would be a generational disaster.
As for the latest politically right-wing obscenity all we had to do is wait and see if more reasonable, moderate Republican Congress people (if there are any who aren’t scared s**tless of the Tea Party) could persuade their tea (nut) bag party colleagues that they’re destroying a once Grand Old Party and a once Grand New Country along with it.
We didn’t have to wait long.