Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A deal is reached...but will they vote on it?

News organizations are now reporting that a deal has been reached to re-open the US government and to avoid default by the US government on its obligations. This is how CNN is reporting the deal.

According to these reports, the deal will fund the government through January 7 and raise the debt limit until February 7. Which is something, but not exactly a lasting solution to the arguments that have been going on. The Tea Party Republicans who had been holding the government hostage in order to try to defund or reverse the Affordable Care Act were thrown a bone in the form of strengthening verification for those receiving subsidies for their coverage under the ACA, apparently allowing them to claim some sort of victory for their efforts.

Of course, I'll believe all of this when I see it. But, it is also being reported that Ted Cruz, one of the leaders in trying to repeal the ACA, has said he will not attempt any procedural strategies or revisit his filibuster in an attempt to derail votes in the Senate and House, which could, it is said, come as early as tonight. However, Cruz did pledge to continue his campaign against the ACA.

What remains to be seen, if course, if John Boehner allows this plan to come to a vote in the House of Representatives, is how it will affect his Speakership in the House of Representatives. Basically, he has lost a fight that at least the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party was seriously invested in. That wing of the party will not be happy with him. But he has also let this farce go on for much too long, and the moderates in the Republican Party, who have been warning about the dangers of taking the tack Boehner and the Tea Partiers have (shutting down the government and risking default) all along will not be happy with him, either. Both groups could well seek to strip him of his leadership position.

Like I said, I won't trust this deal until it is done, voted on, and the government resumes full operation. And I definitely don't trust the Tea Partiers not to try to pull the same thing in January if no lasting agreement is reached before then. Because, you know, I don't trust that wing of the Republican Party any farther than I can thrown two elephants sitting on a grand piano.

If this had been a real issue, this insistence they have on repealing the ACA, I might not have such a problem with this whole thing. But it really isn't. As I've said before here, the ACA was passed legally after lots of wrangling and some concessions by supporters of the program. It was signed legally by the President of the United States. It was even upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States. Additionally, the ACA's opponents have tried somewhere between 40 and 45 times to defund or repeal it. In all those times, they have not been able to muster enough votes to do anything near repeal. And yet, there they stood, stomping their feet like toddlers and obstructing the operation of the government unless they got their way.

That's just childish.

Not that the results have been childish. People's lives have been disrupted. Government workers were put on furlough, losing their pay, or worse, were required to work without pay. And when some worried how they were going to pay their mortgages and other bills, Representative Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico) suggested that they go down to the bank and get a loan to pay their bills. Let me suggest that Pearce, who is a millionaire, is a little out of contact with how the real world works. I suppose Pearce and those like him also didn't care much that the WIC program, which provide nutritional assistance for women, infants, and children who would otherwise have to go without certain basic healthy foods.

I have to admit that this whole episode has left me upset. I don't understand how our system allows a small minority of legislators hold the country hostage in an effort to get what they want. I also don't understand the mindset that has them do this and then some of them threaten that if the President did not knuckle under to their demands and the government went into default, that they would begin impeachment proceedings against him because he wasn't doing his job. This, after the Rules Committee in the House of Representatives changed the rules so that instead of any member being able to bring a vote on reopening the government to a vote on the floor, only the Majority Leader or his designee were allowed to bring the issue to a vote. So much for democracy.

We'll see what happens later today and in the days go come. I'm not monitoring the news right now; I'm sick of hearing about the whole thing. However things go, I'll likely have more to say as events develop.

JUST BY WAY OF A QUICK UPDATE: Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have voted to reopen the government and temporarily raise the debt ceiling. The measure passed the Senate by 81-18, while the House passed the agreement by 285 - 144. Of course, we get to do the whole thing over in January and February. It's more than I expected this morning, however.

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