Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Crisis Averted... for Now

As the clock was ticking down, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) bowed to the inevitable and put a short-term spending bill on the floor of the House that was acceptable to most Democrats and most Republicans. It passed that chamber 335-91, then passed the Senate 88-9, and then was signed into law by Joe Biden late Saturday night. So, the government will not shut down, at least not now.

The bill is, it can fairly be said, a model of bipartisanship in that everyone got some of what they wanted and nobody got everything. The bill will keep the government open, and also will extend the charter of the FAA, which are things that nearly everyone who is not a Freedom Caucuser wanted. In addition, the bill contains funding for some natural disaster aid, which is something that had broad support. On the other hand, the lefties had to give up on Ukraine funding (for now) while the righties had to give up on more money for the border (for now).

There are three obvious questions that remain unanswered at the moment:

  1. What Will the FCers Do?: The general consensus is that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and his cronies in the Freedom Caucus are going to move ahead with a motion to vacate the chair, perhaps as soon as Monday. That certainly seems plausible, especially given the FCers' interest in performative politics. However, we note once again that the "vacate the chair" move is kind of like those single-use fire extinguishers: Once it is gone, it is gone. It is nearly inconceivable to us that any future speaker would agree to the same terms McCarthy did, just having (hypothetically) watched McCarthy's head roll less than one year into his tenure. So, we do not think it impossible that the FCers will prefer to keep their "Use in case of emergency" card in their back pockets a while longer.

  2. Did McCarthy Take Out an Insurance Policy?: Everything came together so quickly, there's no information on what deals McCarthy made with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and his caucus. Maybe McCarthy made no deal, and knew that House Democrats would have no real choice but to vote for the stopgap bill. Maybe there's an agreement that the Democrats will protect McCarthy's job, if and when that is needed, in exchange for concessions (e.g., an end to the impeachment investigation). Either option is well within the realm of possibility.

  3. Not So Sweet November?: The bill that was signed into law last night covers just 45 days (until Nov. 17). Undoubtedly, that choice was not a coincidence, because there will be much motivation to not shut the government down right before Thanksgiving. That said, we have no doubt that Democrats gave up on Ukraine Aid and Republicans gave up on border money because they knew it was only a temporary surrender. It will not be so easy to reach an agreeable compromise next time (well, unless they kick the can down the road again).

This was very late breaking news, so more information may come out today or tomorrow. Or not. Who knows?

Also, as long as we're all joining hands for a round of bipartisan kumbayah, Senate Republicans have already confirmed they do not plan to block the Democrats from replacing Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on the Senate Judiciary Committee. As we wrote yesterday, the risk-reward analysis for attempting a blockade really doesn't add up for the GOP. And it would make even less sense to lie about it and then try it anyhow 2 days later. So, the Judiciary Committee should have its full complement of Democrats as soon as Feinstein's replacement is named (note that the replacement might not end up on Judiciary, but it makes far more sense to do one new organizing resolution with the new senator's assignments and with the new Judiciary member than it does to do two in the span of a couple of days). In fact, it is unlikely that an appointed senator with the least seniority in the entire Senate gets such a coveted assignment. More likely, a more senior Democrat gets it and the newbie gets to fill in the gap left behind when someone else got the seat on the Judiciary Committee. (Z)

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