Now that the House of Representatives has passed its bill to keep the government open and rid the world of Obamacare, the full strategic disaster the Republicans have embarked upon is coming into focus. The procedure is a little confusing, but once we disentangle the steps, it quickly becomes clear that the Republicans have started a dumpster fire they have no obvious way to extinguish.
It’s important to keep in mind that a government shutdown does not, in and of itself, stop Obamacare from going forward. Most of the money for that law has been appropriated through channels (tax credits, state-based exchanges, etc.) immune to shutdown. The Obamacare-shutdown method relies on the hope that keeping the government shut down proves so annoying to the president that he (or a filibuster-proof majority in both houses) submits to abolishing his health-care reform in return for reopening the government. That is the only way shutting down the government could result in the defunding of Obamacare.
Step one of this far-fetched scheme was the passage of a “continuing resolution,” which keeps the government open, attached to abolishing Obamacare. Now it goes to the Senate. Once that bill comes up for a vote in the Senate, the majority can vote to strip away the provision defunding Obamacare. That vote can’t be filibustered. It’s a simple majority vote, and Democrats have the majority.
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