Analysis: shutdown less likely, but one in December lurks

As House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his plans to resign at the end of October, some Congressional and budget experts say the likelihood of a government shutdown Oct. 1 is less than it was before.

But the possibilities for one in December — when short-term funding could dry up — looks like a greater possibility.

With Boehner’s announcement, he also indicated he plans to schedule a vote on short-term continuing resolution that includes funding for Planned Parenthood before Sept. 30, the Associated Press reports.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced Thursday a short-term CR, with Planned Parenthood funding, to keep the government open through Dec. 11, which the Senate will vote on Monday.

Tom Davis, a former House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman and now director of Deloitte’s government relations practice, said Boehner seems willing to put a “clean” CR on the House floor.

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“I’m not sure it will get any easier in December, but we’ll probably get through October,” Davis said.

Robert Shea, a principal at Grant Thornton and former associate director for administration and government performance at the Office of Management and Budget, agreed.

“In the short term, we’ll have agencies funded for a couple more months,” Shea said. “In the long term, that’s where it gets a little more dicey. You’re probably looking at more conservative Speaker, so the prospects for better collaboration and less gridlock are less than they would have been had John Boehner remained Speaker.”

Boehner resigns after some members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have called on Congress to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding — at the risk of a budgetary stalemate and government shutdown.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), a member of the caucus, introduced legislation in July calling on Congress to unseat Boehner.

“It was my plan to only serve as Speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican conference and the House,” Boehner said in a statement. “In my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution.”

Davis said negotiations between OMB and Congress won’t get any easier in the future. The underlining conflicts between Democrats and Republicans, he said, aren’t going away any time soon.

Even though the future of House leadership is in question, Shea said agencies should continue to prepare their shutdown plans.

“The planning still has to proceed as if the government will shut down,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen in the Senate and we don’t know what’s going to happen to that bill should it pass the Senate, in the House. They should continue to plan for the contingency that we don’t have an appropriation next Wednesday.”

J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, again urged Congress to forgo the drama and pass a budget deal.

“John Boehner has never been a friend of federal employees, but it is a sad day when the Speaker of the House of Representatives is ousted because he’s trying to keep the government open for the American people,” Cox said in a statement. “Extremists in the House may think forcing Speaker Boehner to quit is some kind of big win, but it changes nothing for the issues that really matter to the American people, including federal employees and their families.”

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