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Reid: Government to Shut Down Over Abortion, EPA

Harry Reid told constituents this morning that he expects a government shutdown, and as the main person involved in the negotiations, he ought to know. Then he took to the Senate floor, where he pronounced himself “not nearly as optimistic as I was 11 hours ago.”

And Reid specifically mentioned two ideological points that were holding up the debate, saying that Republicans on the House side “have drawn a line in the sand.”

The two policy pieces? Abortion, and the environment. According to Reid, this shutdown won’t take place because of the overall level of cuts, or any dollar amount. It’s because Republicans want to drag along policy riders on the EPA and Planned Parenthood funding and attach them to this continuing resolution like barnacles. Said Reid, “The two main issues holding this up are the choice of women — reproductive rights — and clean air.”

Now, John Boehner’s chief spokesman claims there’s no deal on spending cuts either, and that riders aren’t the only holdup. Indeed, the National Journal story claims that the House GOP proposed a bill with $35 billion in cuts, and Democrats rejected it. It’s unclear whether that $35 billion would be new cuts. Since $10 billion in cuts have been enacted already, that would reflect a brand new shift of the goalposts, from $33 billion in overall cuts to $40 billion and now to $45 billion.

But this insistence is undercut by Republicans putting out reams of paper insisting that there has long been support for banning what they call “taxpayer-funded abortions.” It looks pretty clearly like they are planning to shut the government down because they don’t like women making their own medical choices.

Republicans plan to pass their stopgap bill that would extend government funding for one week, cut $12 billion, and fully fund the military for the rest of the year (locking in their budget at a higher level than what was originally planned). The one-week stopgap also includes a ban on “taxpayer-funded” abortions in Washington, DC. Again, this is all about ideology, it seems. Both the White House and Senate Democrats have dismissed that bill.

Federal workers are protesting the government shutdown, but I hardly think that will have an impact on the debate.

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David Dayen

David Dayen