WASHINGTON — On Capitol Hill, there is at least one issue upon which Democrats and Republicans can agree: Come March 27, there’s no need for a government shutdown.
Instead, the two parties are poised to agree on a continuing resolution to fund the government — on time and with minimal drama.
The resolution is one part of what Erskine Bowles earlier this year termed a potential “triple fiscal fiasco,” in addition to the debt limit and sequestration.
Congress raised the debt limit earlier this year without theatrics, but that issue will likely prove contentious when the debate is reprised during the summer. Sequestration was allowed last week to go into effect after much partisan bickering, an outcome roundly criticized by lawmakers of both parties.
But both parties, fatigued after a chain of fiscal crises and looking ahead to more yet, are ready for a break from relentless brinksmanship, at least for now.
At a House Republican conference meeting last week, some people braced themselves for a fight about how to proceed on the continuing resolution — and were surprised when no such skirmish unfolded.
Instead, members quickly coalesced around a plan by Rep. Hal Rogers, the chair of the appropriations committee, which would re-target some of the sequestration-induced cuts to the Department of Defense, military construction and Veterans Affairs.
“It actually was almost striking for a Republican conference which tends to be pretty contentious these days,” said Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma. “I don’t think anybody got up and spoke against it.”
On the opposite side of the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pressed publicly for a “clean” continuing resolution to fund the government; a Senate Democratic leadership aide confirmed Reid would likely accept the House plan. And, last week, President Barack Obama said he saw “no reason why we should have another crisis by shutting the government down” by not approving a continuing resolution.
Weather permitting, the House will likely approve the measure Thursday, according to a House Republican leadership aide — a sign that Congress is, at least for the time being, foregoing political antagonism for legislative comity.
“If we can get something out of (the House) that the Senate can support, it’s a win-win for everybody,” the aide said.