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Get Ready for Legislative Jenga

Fun and games in the halls of Congress

The chances the Republican controlled Congress and President Obama will proactively reach some big legislative deals seem remote. Republicans have almost no incentive to compromise with Obama, and the President’s decision to move forward with executive actions indicates he finally realizes deal making is unlikely.

This means that one of the only ways the Republican-controlled Congress is likely to reshape policy in the country over the next two years is by attaching riders to large must-pass legislation like funding bills and tax extenders. While Obama would clearly risk another shutdown to veto a funding bill that includes a provision defunding Obamacare, he probably wouldn’t risk a shutdown just to stop a few small provisions he simply doesn’t like.

Think of it like a game of legislative Jenga. Republicans can get away with removing a few blocks, the trick is finding out just how many before the thing falls apart. Cutting one small program could probably slip through, while trying to end Obama’s big executive action in immigration won’t.

This makes the seemingly boring continuing resolution the lame duck Congress must approve before the end of the year surprisingly significant. The longer this lame duck continuing resolution lasts, the less time we will have a fight over how to fund the government over the next two years. That means fewer funding fights and fewer chances for Republicans to slip in small legislative provisions Obama doesn’t like but aren’t important enough to veto the whole package over.

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Get Ready for Legislative Jenga

Fun and games in the halls of Congress

The chances the Republican controlled Congress and President Obama will proactively reach some big legislative deals seem remote. Republicans have almost no incentive to compromise with Obama, and the President’s decision to move forward with executive actions indicates he finally realizes deal making is unlikely.

This means that one of the only ways the Republican-controlled Congress is likely to reshape policy in the country over the next two years is by attaching riders to large must-pass legislation like funding bills and tax extenders. While Obama would clearly risk another shutdown to veto a funding bill that includes a provision defunding Obamacare, he probably wouldn’t risk a shutdown just to stop a few small provisions he simply doesn’t like.

Think of it like a game of legislative Jenga. Republicans can get away with removing a few blocks, the trick is finding out just how many before the thing falls apart. Cutting one small program could probably slip through, while trying to end Obama’s big executive action in immigration won’t.

This makes the seemingly boring continuing resolution the lame duck Congress must approve before the end of the year surprisingly significant. The longer this lame duck continuing resolution lasts, the less time we will have a fight over how to fund the government over the next two years. That means fewer funding fights and fewer chances for Republicans to slip in small legislative provisions Obama doesn’t like but aren’t important enough to veto the whole package over. (more…)

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at http://pendinghorizon.com