There are 21 House Republicans on record favoring a clean continuing resolution bill that will allow full staffing for the federal government. There are more who say they will support that measure if it comes up for a vote according to reporter Jennifer Bendery, who is keeping a running tally.
We’ve heard about the 45 or so Tea Party Republicans who fear a primary if they break ranks on the destroy-Obamacare tactic that’s holding up a federal budget and keeping the government shut down. All but one are from states that President Obama carried in 2012. Most are from suburban areas near larger cities or areas with intensive military or government installations. For example, Rep. Rob Wittman’s Virginia district runs from Newport News, at the Southeast corner of the state, up to Dale City, a Washington, DC suburb. He’s in double trouble with concentrations of both government and federal workers.
Speaker of the House, John Boehner, controls the agenda and determines what bills come to the House floor for a vote. It would only take 18 of the 21 Republicans to honor their public pledge to reverse the House vote and end the budget crisis. That won’t happen unless Boehner plans to retire.
So what do these Republicans do? Their first option is to face very strong challenges in the 2014 general election from a Democrat. They will win their primaries but bear the mark of Tea Party for their association with the Republican Party shutdown. If these Republicans want to get creative, a couple of them could threaten to defect to the Democratic Party. That might wake up the somnolent Boehner. There were regular defections from the Democratic Party in the 1980’s as part of a general realignment. Mind you, there wouldn’t have to be any defections, just the threat to give Boehner enough cover to allow an open vote.
The last government shutdown under Clinton lasted nearly a month. That caused some major problems but came amidst a strong economy (relatively). Many of the 99.99% for whom a possible financial collapse matters are looking over their shoulders as a matter of routine. This is a looming presence, regardless of minimal signs of a financial drag or collapse caused by this nonsense so far.
Here’s how we got to where we are today? The congressional vote between Republicans and Democrats, measured in the aggregate was about even in 2012. However, the districts were drawn in a way that ensured the election of representatives from the same party as those who created the districts. Since the Republican surge in state legislatures startling 2010, the majority of states where district maps are drawn by the legislatures end up with Republican dominated congressional delegations. Virginia has a 11 member congressional delegation with 8 Republicans and 3 Democrats in the House of Representatives. President Obama carried Virginia in 2008 and 2012 by respectable margins. How did that happen? It happened in the state legislature just like it did in the other states. The Republicans know when to get serious about state elections and they know what do do when they control the legislature.
Jon Oliver did a piece on Stewart’s show last night. He began by showing the picture below – Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district, occupied by Rep. Meehan (on the list above). ‘What does that look like?” Oliver asked. Steward said something like a ‘bat vagina.’ The shape of the district has absolutely nothing to do with any sensible grouping of people unless you define sensible as the election of Republican Pat Meehan.
The show will go on and the risks of a major disaster will multiply with each day. We may be postponing an inevitable reckoning with our national finances but I prefer to look at the delay as quality time in America, that period right before we hit the wall. Enjoy it while it lasts.