Odds of shutdown shrink with Boehner exit

Francis Rivera

House Republicans are confident they will avoid a government shutdown after the sudden announcement on Friday that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is stepping down.

“I think with the Speaker’s decision, the odds of a shutdown are much less likely,” Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) said. “Because the ‘shutdown caucus’ as I call them has a small victory, and they can move forward knowing that perhaps there’s a bigger battle they can fight in the coming weeks.”

{mosads}House Republicans are coalescing around a short-term government spending bill, just in time for the Oct. 1 deadline to fund the government. One day earlier, Congress appeared headed toward a shutdown, with leadership unable to calm the raucous internal debate sparked by the recent Planned Parenthood video controversy.

Several dozen conservative members told Boehner they would refuse to back any spending bill that included funds for Planned Parenthood — an outcome that could have forced a shutdown.   

But one of those members, Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), said Friday that members were no longer expecting a showdown.

“I think it makes it highly unlikely,” Fleming told reporters. “Leadership has made a commitment that there will definitely be, come hell or high water, there will be a clean [continuing resolution] before next week,” he said, referring to the must-pass spending bill.

House GOP leaders announced Friday during a closed-door conference meeting — minutes before Boehner revealed his decision to retire — that they had reached an agreement to fund the government.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the House would pass a “clean” spending bill next week, likely the same version that passes the Senate.

The spending bill, also known as a continuing resolution, would continue to fund Planned Parenthood, but leaders pledged to defund the health provider in a separate bill that could be fast-tracked to President Obama’s desk using a budget process known as reconciliation.

The House also plans to hold more votes on anti-abortion legislation and expand its investigation into Planned Parenthood with a new special committee. 

“I think that we have a good positive strategy moving forward to pass a continuing resolution and fund the agencies,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), a member of Boehner’s House leadership, told reporters.

“I think we need to pull together and show the American people we can govern, while we investigate abuses wherever they occur.”

Boehner’s shocking announcement on Friday quickly changed the conversation across Capitol Hill from one about the impending budget crisis to the leadership vacuum in the House.

“It’ll create a sense of unity, quite frankly,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said of Boehner’s plans for a sudden exit.

The move does not appease all conservatives. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), who had supported a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood, was quick to accuse Boehner of skirting the issue.

“I think it’s ironic, and perhaps a really sad note, that he would end his speakership by doing nothing about this issue of Planned Parenthood and trafficking,” Huelskamp said. “If you’re Speaker of the House, and if you can’t stop funding to one entity that’s doing such shocking things, then perhaps it is time to step down.”

The chances of a shutdown are not zero, however. One Boehner ally, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), said there will “probably be some more drama” before the budget deadline.

“I think it’ll pass before the deadline — I hope it does, but accidents happen around here,” he said.

This story was updated at 12:53 p.m. Rebecca Shabad contributed.

Tags Boehner John Boehner John Fleming

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