House Leadership scheduled a vote for Friday on a continuing resolution that will keep the government open through December, setting up a major decision by Senate Democrats that could lead to a government shutdown.
To the mattresses
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced Wednesday that the House be voting Friday on a continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare while funding the rest of the government.
Cantor also said that, if that vote failed, the House would stay in session through the weekend and until a CR is passed, no matter how long it takes. The House had been scheduled to go on vacation next week, but instead, it will stay open for legislative business through the end of September.
How will Democrats respond?
If House Republicans do manage to pass their defund-Obamacare CR, Democrats will have to carefully calibrate how to they respond. Their options include:
1) Nothing. The Senate could simply ignore the House CR, demand a bill that funds Obamacare and then blame Republicans for a shutdown when nothing happens. Voting down the CR would have the same effect, but send a stronger signal that the House bill is unacceptable.
2) Amend the CR to restore Obamacare spending and undo the sequester. This is what most Democrats want to do, but probably will not. Democrats believe they have the upper hand on who will be blamed if there is a government shutdown now. But if they try to force House Republicans to undo the sequester, many Democrats believe that will change and they will end up getting blamed.
3) Amend the CR to restore Obamacare. This is the most likely option. Democrats desperately want a government shutdown that is squarely blamed on Republicans and this is their best route to get there.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, could never find the votes to pass a CR with Obamacare funding, even if his caucus was backed up against a government shutdown deadline. That means he will need votes from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, R-Calif., to get an Obamacare-funding CR passed.
The main difficulty for Democrats will be accurately pricing Pelosi's help in passing a clean CR. If Senate Dems add too much into the CR they send back to the House, Republicans can cry foul and blame Democrats for the shutdown.
But Democrats are not going to let Pelosi save Boehner for free, either. Look for Senate Democrats to get creative next week with legislative strategy, media messaging and the facts.
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