Republicans Try to Avoid Government Shutdown Repeat

SHAFAQNA – House Republican leaders crafted a U.S. government funding proposal intended to prevent a repeat of last year’s politically costly partial federal shutdown.

The House Appropriations Committee late yesterday unveiled a proposalthat would fund the government through Dec. 11 and renew the Export-Import Bank’s charter through June 30. Government funding expires Sept. 30, as does the bank charter.

Last October’s 17-day partial government shutdown — in which Republicans tried to use government funding as leverage to curtail the 2010 health-care law — caused Republicans’ public approval ratings to sink.

Now even some Republicans who supported last year’s effort are reluctant to engage in another showdown just before the November congressional election.

“We don’t see any benefit to discussing that,” said Representative John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican who supported last year’s strategy. He said Republicans are bullish on their prospects for picking up seats in November.

“We are going to be gaining seats in the House, we’re likely to take the Senate and with that we can do a whole lot more than we have been able to do in the past, be it Obamacare or anything else,” Fleming said.

In the midst of last year’s shutdown, Republicans’ favorability rating sank to a record-low 28 percent, according to a Gallup poll, dropping 10 percentage points in one month.

Speaker Boehner

Winning passage of the spending measure — tentatively slated for a floor vote tomorrow — is the latest test for House Speaker John Boehner and his Republican leadership team as they try to appease the business and small-government factions of their conference.

“We will not allow a shutdown” when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, said after a private meeting of House Republicans yesterday inWashington. “People realize it’s something we have to do, keep the lights on, keep the government going.”

The Ex-Im bank provides loan guarantees, loans and insurance to help foreign companies buy U.S. goods. Some House Republicans including Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, backed by small-government groups including the Club for Growth and Heritage Action, want to abolish the bank. They say it benefits large corporations that don’t need the support.

Without a reauthorization, the agency wouldn’t be able to make new loans though it still could manage existing loans and contracts. The legislation doesn’t provide funding for the bank.

Senate Action

If the House passes the measure, Senate action is likely to follow next week, paving the way for lawmakers to wrap up their work this month and head home to campaign before the Nov. 4 election.

While there’s far less appetite this year among Republican lawmakers to raise the prospect of a shutdown, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a leader of last year’s effort, told reporters yesterday that his party should try to attach language to the spending measure that would block PresidentBarack Obama from taking executive action on immigration.

Asked about Cruz’s approach, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, was noncommittal, saying he was “going to wait and see what the House sends over.”

Representative Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican who is close to Boehner, said House Republicans would be unwise to embrace Cruz’s strategy.

No ‘Rerun’

“Something extraneous like that attached without widespread agreement on both sides of the aisle would push us toward government shutdown and people who advocate that strategy saw how well it worked last year,” Cole said. “We don’t really need a rerun of the same movie.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, aMaryland Democrat, and Rogers worked behind the scenes to craft the spending bill.

Lawmakers spent yesterday negotiating details of the plan, with House Republican leaders trying to devise a proposal that could gain broad support within their party and among Democrats.

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