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White House Thinks U.S. House Is about to Make Two Unforced Errors

Now that Labor Day is in the rear-view mirror, the House of Representatives is back to work. And given the state of affairs with the majority party, there are two concerns of paramount importance: demanding steep budget cuts/shutting down the government if they are not granted, and impeaching Joe Biden.

As things are unfolding, it is looking more and more like the two things will end up linked together. That is to say, there are members of the Freedom Caucus—along with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who was kicked out of the Caucus—who say they won't vote for any government funding, even just a "kick the can down the road" continuing resolution, without a vote to launch an impeachment inquiry into the President. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) could theoretically reach across the aisle and round up some Democratic votes, but in that case, the Freedom Caucusers have made clear they will respond by trying to kick McCarthy out of the speakership.

And so, the sausage-making is about to get particularly gruesome. On the whole, the White House thinks that if House Republicans continue along their current course, it will ultimately come back to bite the GOP in the a** (even if it's the Democrats whose symbol is a donkey). There is some historical precedent for this; the biggest self-inflicted GOP wounds of the past 30 years were the sham impeachment of Bill Clinton and the government shutdowns of 2013 and 2018-19. Very, uh, savvy of the House Republicans to somehow find a way to combine both into one tidy package.

That said, the Biden administration is also wary. Given the ongoing propaganda war against him (see below for more), he may be particularly vulnerable to phony charges of malfeasance. Meanwhile, Team Biden is working hard to convince Americans that the economy is doing well, and that it's headed in the right direction. A government shutdown would not help on that front, particularly if the shutdown leads to a stock market downturn or, God forbid, a downgrade of the United States' credit rating.

In short, while House Republicans might be about to cut themselves off at the knees, they are not entirely without leverage here. It's likely going to depend a fair bit on what Senate Republicans do. Needless to say, the Senate GOP does not have enough votes to actually pass anything that might make its way through the House. However, if the non-nutty Senate Republicans (in other words, not Ted Cruz, R-TX, or Mike Lee, R-UT, or Josh Hawley, R-MO, or Rand Paul, R-KY) spend much oxygen talking loudly about the need for budget austerity and/or for an impeachment, then House Republicans might be able to stick their landing. On the other hand, if most Senate Republicans say "Don't ask us what's going on over there," then it will make the House GOP look much more like a rogue band of troublemakers. The potential incapacity of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may loom large here.

There are enough wildcards here, then, that it's hard to say what will happen. The only thing that's certain is that you should buckle up, because it's going to be a bumpy ride. (Z)

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