Why a Battle of the Budget is Looking Unlikely

While Obama's jobs proposal and the Super Committee have dominated Beltway chatter this week, the more urgent issue of the moment is the looming threat of a government shutdown. Here's where things stand:

The House and Senate have yet to pass the 12 appropriations bills that will fund the government's 2012 budget, and current spending is set to expire on October 1. When the same problem arose at the beginning of the year, John Boehner and House Republicans used the threat of a shutdown to get additional cuts. This time around, because Congress and the administration already came to a deal on 2012 spending as part of the debt ceiling deal passed in August, we aren't supposed to go through that again. Unless, of course, House Republicans renege on the deal.

TPM's Brian Beutler explains where there could be grounds for a fight:

That leaves open the possibility that Republicans will try to husband some of that money -- a few billion dollars worth -- to pressure Democrats to deal with them on the terms of each appropriations bill: Which accounts gets how much money, and will Democrats sign off on GOP policy riders, limiting President Obama's power to advance environmental, health care, and other key regulations?

Jonathan Bernstein follows the same logic. "How many Tea Partiers intend to vote against pretty much any appropriations bill? How many will vote against a CR that doesn't eliminate ACA, the EPA, and Planned Parenthood?"

It's a fair assumption based on the past actions of the 112th this year, but the current evidence points to an easy CR, with any disputes pushed off until after the Super Committee has finalized its cuts. "The speaker wants to avoid a showdown, so I think what we'll get is a short-term CR," Iowa Rep. Steve King told me yesterday. "I don't think the Speaker's going to go there, and if he's not going to go there and the president's wiling to accept a CR, what's he going to fight for? They’re going to put their fight over onto the Super Committee and the president's job package." King is one of the loudest Tea Party rabble-rousers in the House, so if he lacks the appetite for a fight it appears doubtful anyone else will step up from the right to sink Boehner's CR.

Over at the Washington Post Suzy Khimm examined outside pressure on the GOP caucus and came to the same conclusion: House Republicans won't be facing much outside pressure for a showdown. She interviewed representatives from FreedomWorks and Americans for Tax Reform -- two of the prime groups always itching to rail against big government -- and neither showed any desire to raise the threat of a shutdown.

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