WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – The plan first pitched by Florida Senator Marco Rubio to shutdown the government or default on the national debt if the Affordable Care Act isn't defunded has opened up a schism among Senator Rubio's own party.
House GOP leaders have been dealing with rowdy first-term members who have taken on Rubio's plan and are issuing take it or leave it ultimatums to their own party. The House leadership, still remembering what happened the last time the government shutdown, are not keen on going down that path.
So, the House leadership came up with a plan to pass a continuing resolution that would keep the government running for a few months and would add on a separate bill to defund the ACA in a bit of political theater.
The leadership knew the separate bill would die in the Senate, but it would allow the younger members who want to defund Obamacare or else to cast a symbolic vote against it while keeping the wheels of government turning.
But, before the bill could be voted on, the GOP leadership had to pull the bill because Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee both said the plan was nothing but a sellout and that Republicans should not support anything but a clean bill that defunds Obamacare, or else.
The schism that opened up now has some conservative groups labeling the House leadership, like Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor as Obamacare stooges ready to keep the law in place over conservative opposition.
Without the support of conservatives, House GOP leadership would have to turn to Democrats to get enough support to pass a bill funding the government. But, that plan would also require the GOP leadership to give more to Democrats to give them enough reason to support the leadership.
If the House GOP leadership could pass the separate bills, based on history the Senate would pass the continuing resolution to fund the government and then vote down the bill to defund Obamacare.
The continuing resolution would keep funding at sequestration levels, so Republicans would actually achieve a legislative victory by keeping deep budget cuts in place.
The issue surrounding the government funding and Obamacare may be pushed through to set up the stage for another legislating by terrorism move to hold the debt ceiling hostage to defund Obamacare.
The debt ceiling, until the GOP took control of the House in 2010, was passed without issue and typically with a clean bill since it was put in place. However, it's been used as leverage since 2010 to achieve deep budget cuts.
The threat is the House will refuse to increase the debt ceiling and risk plunging the global economy into a depression if it doesn't achieve its policy goals. President Barack Obama drew a line in the sand and said he wouldn't negotiate on the debt ceiling this time around.
All of it sets the stage for a possible government shutdown or debt default in the next month in Washington, DC. Democrats are standing on the sideline and waiting to act until the GOP schism is settled and it may be that the divisions in the Republican Party may be too deep to bridge.
If that happens, anything is possible as the debt limit and a government shutdown loom on the horizon.
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