Funny thing about that budget and debt ceiling agreement that supposedly removed the threat of a government shutdown for two years: It did no such thing. It didn’t even remove it for two months.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 “should finally free us from the cycle of shutdown threats and last-minute fixes,” President Obama said while signing the agreement Monday. All the weight of the world rests on that “should.” A lot of things shouldhappen. Donald Trump and Ben Carson should drop in presidential polls. Twitter should maintain stars and not replace them with dumb little twee hearts. Tom Brady should be exiled to outer space.
The 114th Congress, similarly, should have a smooth appropriations ride now that the budget agreement has resolved the thorniest aspect of the spending process: setting top-line funding numbers. House Republicans, with their flashy new hot-shot speaker, should offer their input and then do whatever the new boss says to avoid embarrassing him this early in his tenure over some ideological fantasy.
But things are going to get a little bumpier than they should.
Now that the framework for funding the rest of the fiscal year is agreed upon, Congress must pass the actual appropriations by Dec. 11 as agreed to under the short-term continuing resolution passed at the end of September. You’ll recall back then that Congress was barreling toward a shutdown over certain demands from the House Freedom Caucus. They wouldn’t vote for any funding measure that gave Planned Parenthood access to federal dollars, and they would attempt to oust Speaker John Boehner if he called up and passed with Democratic votes a bill that funded Planned Parenthood. So Boehner offered to topple himself instead and passed the two-and-a-half-month extension as a lame duck.