Rep. Van Hollen: “No Clear End” to Budget Battle

The first government shutdown since 1996 is all but certain come Tuesday morning

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Michael Bonfigli /The Christian Science Monitor)

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said there is “no clear end point” to the current fiscal battles, indicating that the first government shutdown since 1996 is all but certain come Tuesday morning.

Van Hollen, speaking at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast at a Washington D.C. hotel, called on Speaker John Boehner to stop kowtowing to the most conservative elements of the Republican party. “If we had a vote in the House of Representatives today on the clean continuing resolution that is coming out of the Senate, it would pass,” said Van Hollen, referring to the government funding legislation passed by the Senate Friday that keeps current spending levels constant through mid-November. “The only thing standing in the way of keeping the government open would be the refusal of the Speaker to allow [that] vote.”

The House may have that opportunity Monday night, after the Senate rejects Monday afternoon the House proposal. That resolution, passed Sunday morning, would continue federal spending through mid-December, while delaying for a year the use of federal funds to carry out the Affordable Care Act.

In one sign of the depths of the inter-party dysfunction, Van Hollen said that the Democrats are currently learning what the Speaker is proposing through his press releases. After the House Republicans hit the Democratically-controlled Senate for not convening Sunday a few days before the October 1 funding deadline, Van Hollen struck back at Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for controlling the House. Sen. Cruz led a 21-hour speech in favor of the House proposal last week, and moved behind the scenes to oppose Speaker Boehner’s plan to use the debt limit instead of the government shutdown as leverage in extracting concessions.

“Senator Cruz is essentially running the show in the House of Representatives,” said Van Hollen. “If Speaker Boehner doesn’t want to assert some leadership he should go ahead and turn the gavel over to Speaker Cruz.”

Van Hollen doesn’t believe that the Tea Party fervor will simmer after a government funding resolution is passed. Instead, he thinks that the upcoming negotiations over the October 17 debt-limit deadline will prove to be of an even higher pitch.

“A lot of these Tea Party Republicans are going to double down on trying to defund Obamacare on the debt ceiling,” said Van Hollen. “Which goes from a really risky and irresponsible move to a downright dangerous move with respect to the full faith and credit of the United States.” The House Budget Committee Chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), told National Review that he thinks it is preferable for the current fight to roll into the debt limit talks. “I like combining all of our leverage, which is sequester and the debt limit,” Ryan said.

6 comments
MrObvious
MrObvious

Can the adult in the room send the juvenile punks to their rooms and get something done please? I didn't vote for the 5 year temper tantrum.

jmac
jmac

Paul Ryan wants to roll the fight over to the debt ceiling.  Of course he does - he's the go-to Republican on the economy and he knows last time he did it we lost our credit rating.

Anyone, anyone who thinks that Republicans are responsible on the economy needs to check himself into a psycho ward.  

jsfox
jsfox

Sure there is an end point, the Speaker could do what is right for the economy and country and bring a clean bill to the House floor for a vote. It would pass with Democrats helping. Yes he would have to break the absurd Hastert rule and would probably face a coup by the Teahadist Reps, but I bet if Boehner did this more than a few democrats would come riding to his rescue.  And maybe, just maybe, it would usher in a period of the House actually starting to function responsibly

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@jsfox We aren't even sure it would break the Hastert rule. The Teabaggers are actually a minority of the Republicans. Boehner can end this fiasco at any time.


anon76
anon76

@PaulDirks @jsfox

That's what I keep saying.  Even the Tea Party doesn't claim to have more than 70 votes backing them, and that number itself is probably inflated well beyond reality.  70 votes out of a 230+ member delegation in the House does not come close to violating the Hastert Rule (which, I think we all agree, is a stupid rule to begin with).  If Boehner ever develops a spine and realizes that continually caving to the fringe of his party does not constitute a job worth keeping, we'll all be fine.

jmac
jmac

@PaulDirks @jsfox There's no way after the Cruz takeover that more than 17 (or so) Republicans would vote for it - and those 17 are going to be carefully selected.   Fox and Rush still rule.  They're all still afraid of both of them - and afraid for their jobs.