September 24, 2013
In Washington, the gears of state are cranking towards the battle over a continuing resolution to fund the government into the next fiscal year. The current CR, as they are called, ends on 1 October, as does fiscal year 2013. But the battle is not going to be over how much the CR should be or if it should be locked in at the same rate as the FY2013 CR. The battle is going to be over whether or not the new CR will provide the funding for implementing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
In recent memory CR battles have pitted the Democrats in the Senate against Conservative Republicans in the House. However, this time around the battle lines seem to be drawn between Conservatives within the GOP and the more moderate elements in the GOP leadership of the Senate and to some extent the House.
Some are calling this latest spat between Conservatives and Republican leaders a "civil war," and considering the past couple years with some Republicans calling others "hobbits," "wacko birds," and outright dismissing conservative policies, this characterization would be appropriate. However, this time around it seems that many who observed previous battles are getting involved.
The battle is over the plan presented by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ted Cruz (R-TX), to tie Obamacare to the CR by having the House pass a CR that fully funds the government with the exception of revenue specified for implementing the healthcare law. Then the Senate, controlled by the Democrats, would have to choose between passing that type of CR or face a government shutdown. This would be predicated on the House Republicans standing firm and allowing for the shutdown to happen.
Pundits within the Conservative media have said that this would be the acts of "kamakazis" and turn the GOP into "sushi" during the 2014 mid-term elections. And it would seem that after the past week the wheels have fallen off the plan due to comments by Cruz, essentially saying that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), will strip the Obamacare language out of the House CR and pass one that funds everything and now it is up to the House to stand firm.
This is the stage that is set, but is defunding Obamacare really the aim here?
During this back and forth, Conservative groups and TEA Party groups have mounted advertising campaigns against, not Democrats, but GOP Senators who have voiced their disapproval with the Lee/Cruz plan. Senators like Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), both up for re-election in 2014, have seen ads in their states "comparing them to chickens." These types of ads have been run by groups like Heritage Action, TEA Party Patriots, ForAmerica, and The Club For Growth.
This "civil war" seems to be about more than tactics on how to repeal Obamacare. This looks like an actual war of sorts aimed at targeting Senate Republicans for primary challenges so as to grow the ranks of the more (or actual, depending on how you wish to read this) Conservative members. This would actually mean that a government shutdown never was the goal of Lee or Cruz, but rather, they sought to draw out Republican Senators who are facing the voters next year in the attempts of defeating them in primaries.
Keep in mind that it was former Senator Jim Demint (R-SC), current head of Heritage Action, who said a few years ago that he would rather have 40 solidly Conservative votes in the Senate than 51 votes comprised of more moderate leaning Republicans. It would appear that Cruz and Lee have devised a plan to identify, target, and possibly defeat those who are more apt to function as status quo Republicans.
Rest assured, Senators Lee and Cruz believe that America would be better off if the agenda of the Obama administration was done away with, but it seems that they think increasing the power of TEA Party types within the GOP is more important. After all, it seems foolish to lead an army into battle if the leaders of that army are only going to leave them out to dry as soon as the first shots are fired.
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