As I mentioned in my last post on the probable government shutdown, federal agencies and programs officially run out of discretionary funding in a few days, marking the start of fiscal year 2014. Talk about starting off on the right foot: as of October 1, budget authority appropriated for the previous fiscal year runs out.
Without a stopgap measure, all signs point to a complete government shutdown, the first since 1995 (despite the multiple threats since that time).
But how long will the government be out of business?
Veteran Washington budget wonk Stan Collender is predicting a shutdown of at least a week, largely because public ire will be needed to budge the budget battle lines drawn in the sand. Cue pitchforks and angry mob.
In the event of a government shutdown, House Republicans are overwhelmingly favored to take the brunt of the blame, as I discussed at Huffington Post, and for good reason—this tantrum is an irresponsible showcase of their disapproval for the Affordable Care Act with no chance of accomplishing any stated objective.
When private contractors and companies doing business with the federal government stop seeing invoices processed, they will take note. The same goes for national parks abruptly closing, government employees getting furloughed, and so on. As a result, their Representatives will hear about it, and then some.
Many on the right, however, are not convinced a shutdown is even possible. “Let’s put it this way,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told CNN. “I’m not about to shut down the government and have Republicans take the blame for it. It’s just that simple.”
A government shutdown is an untenable situation, much less so for the party being blamed for it. House Republican leadership will have to budge, something they clearly aren’t accustomed to doing.
Roughly forty Tea Party House Republicans effectively vote “no” to everything. In fact, they have been dubbed the “No On Everything” caucus by vexed former House Republican Steven LaTourette. The Washington Post has done an analysis of seven major votes in which the “No On Everything” caucus acted, naturally, in the negative.
If this trend holds during the climax of an ideologically-driven clash over the ACA, effectively keeping an additional 30+ million people from receiving health insurance, Speaker John Boehner will have to rely on votes from House Democrats to reopen the government.
Probably a lot of votes from House Democrats.