Looks like we're headed for a government shutdown. With the Republican plan to defund Obamacare dead in the water, House Republicans decided this afternoon to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government attached to a one-year delay of the health law instead. That makes a government shutdown next week quite likely.
Current funding for the government ends on Monday, and if the House, the Senate, and the White House don't agree on a new funding plan by then, all government services and functions deemed non-essential will close until a funding plan can be put in place. President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have both reiterated in recent days that they will not agree to any continuing resolution that defunds or delays all or part of Obamacare.
A unanimous handcount in a meeting of House Republicans today suggests that the new CR with delay attached will pass with every GOP vote in the lower chamber.
House Speaker John Boehner explained the decision to attach a delay measure in a statement. "The American people don't want a government shut down and they don't want ObamaCare...We will do our job and send this bill over, and then it's up to the Senate to pass it and stop a government shutdown.
Pushing to delay the health law has always made a lot more sense, both as a political tactic and a public message, than the push to defund. But it still faces the same essential barrier as the defund push did, which is that Democrats in the Senate have made it clear they won't sign on to a delay provision. And even if they unexpectedly did, a delay measure would still have to be passed by President Obama, who has vowed not to accept any delays to the health law as part of the negotiating process.
Which means that the two parties appear to be at an impasse, with no resolution likely before current government funding expires at the end of Monday. Shutdown city, here we come!
Update: Congressional sources suggest to NRO's Robert Costa that it's possible, although far from certain, that Speaker Boehner might pursue a one-week funding bill in order to create additional time to negotiate a longer continuing resolution.
Update 2: To no one's surprise, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made it clear that the majority-Democrat upper chamber won't pass the House's new Obamacare-delaying CR. "Senate will reject any attempt to force changes to the health care law through a government funding bill or the debt ceiling," he Tweets. "Today’s vote by House Republicans is pointless. The American people will not be extorted by Tea Party anarchists."
Update 3: And here's the White House response, via Politico:
"Today Republicans in the House of Representatives moved to shut down the government," reads the statement from press secretary Jay Carney.
"Republicans in Congress had the opportunity to pass a routine, simple continuing resolution that keeps the government running for a few more weeks," Carney said. "But instead, Republicans decided they would rather make an ideological point by demanding the sabotage of the health care law."
"Any member of the Republican Party who votes for this bill is voting for a shutdown," Carney added.
Update 4: I'm now hearing that the House GOP is planning to attach two amendments to the continuing resolution: a one year delay of Obamacare, and a full repeal of the law's medical device tax. The Obamacare delay is clearly a non-starter in the Senate, but the plan may be to accept the medical device tax repeal (presuming the Senate can be pursuaded to go for it at some point), then pass an otherwise clean CR, declare victory, and move on.
Update 5: And now Costa suggests that the backup plan when the Senate inevitably rejects a one-year delay in the health care law may be a new CR—one that includes an amendment that would undo the recent ruling that Congress members and staffers who are required to purchase health insurance from the law's exchanges can carry over their existing employer-provided coverage subsidy.