By Justin Sink
A top White House official believes that Congress will pass a continuing resolution to keep the government open later this month, despite suggestions from some in the president's party that Republicans could imperil the funding measure.
"This is Congress's business," said Jeff Zients, the director of the National Economic Council. "I think that it's clear if you look at the data that we are accelerating, it's also clear that the dramas that we've had in Washington ... in the not too distant past have been a real impediment to economic growth. So we believe Congress will put its head down and do the right thing here and not create one of those situations."
Republican leaders have said repeatedly that they have no intention to do so, and have accused Democrats of playing up the possibility to raise money and motivate base voters.
But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) launched a website last month, shutdownbrokenpromises.com, to highlight instances where Republicans made similar pledges before the 2013 shutdown.
“Once again, we’re seeing that Republicans see government shutdowns as partisan tools, not economic disasters," DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said last month. "It’s exactly this kind of reckless gamesmanship that led to the last shutdown and is leaving the door open for another at the end of September. For the sake of our economy, this Republican Congress needs to take shutdowns off the table once and for all.”
The White House itself has entertained shutdown talk, highlighting suggestions from conservative lawmakers like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) that the GOP could block a funding measure if the president forges ahead with an executive action on immigration reform. King said in an interview last week that "all bets are off" for a continuing resolution if President Obama moves forward unilaterally.
"It would be a real shame if Republicans were to engage in an effort to shut down the government over a common-sense solution like that," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said last week. "But they’ve done it before."
The coming months will also see Obama move ahead with executive orders related to the economy, Zients said.
"The president will continue to announce new executive actions going forward and continue to execute on the executive actions that have already been announced," he said.
Specifically, the White House will continue a push on the minimum wage, where the administration has worked with state and local governments looking to implement higher pay rates. The administration also plans to highlight companies that have reformed their hiring practices to prevent discrimination against the long-term unemployed, Zients said.