John Boehner's exit makes shutdown less likely

Story highlights

  • There is no more talk of a government shutdown now that John Boehner has stepped down
  • Now that the Speaker has decided to go, Boehner can put a bill to fund the federal government on the floor without fear of political reprisal

Washington (CNN)There is no more talk of a government shutdown now that John Boehner has stepped down.

"It makes it highly unlikely," said Republican John Fleming, a Louisiana conservative who is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, which led the charge to oust Boehner, moments after the Speaker Friday announced he would leave his post in at the end of October.
That's good news for government workers and all Americans who are anxiously staring at a Wednesday midnight deadline for Congress to approve new money for government operations or face the possibility of a another disruptive shutdown. In 2013, a fight over funding Obamacare triggered a 16-day partial shuttering of the government.
    A group of more than 30 House conservatives have told Boehner they would not vote for any spending bill that didn't bar all taxpayer money for Planned Parenthood, the women's health care organization that provides abortion services.
    Many of these members on the right of the House GOP conference used their threat to topple Boehner as leverage against passing a continuing resolution that didn't defund Planned Parenthood. But now that the Speaker has decided to go, Boehner can put the bill on the floor without fear of political reprisal.
    "It will probably take substantial Democrat votes to pass it," Fleming said, noting that he and many other conservatives would still vote against it.
    The legislation would fund the government through Dec. 11, ostensibly giving lawmakers and the White House time to reach a broad agreement on a longer term spending plan for the government as well as an increase in the debt ceiling, passage of a highway funding bill, and possibly hard to achieve changes to the tax code.
    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters Friday, "The opportunity for a clean continuing resolution is an absolute necessity," referring to a funding bill that would not affect Planned Parenthood. She said that the stopgap bill from both parties would give leaders from both parties to negotiate on overall budget numbers for defense and non-defense programs, and was hopeful that would lead to a broader deal by the end of the year.
    "I don't think there is a possibility of a shutdown," said Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a close Boehner ally, who insisted the votes would have been there for a government funding bill even if Boehner had not stepped down.
    GOP Rep. Hal Rogers, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, told reporters he expected the House to take up the short-term funding bill that is expected to pass in the Senate early next week.
    Senate Democrats blocked a bill this week that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed that would have stripped taxpayer money for Planned Parenthood, so he then set up a vote on a clean spending bill.
    Conservatives complained that Boehner frequently passed legislation with the help of Democrats, and that he should instead be focused on pushing a measure that satisfied demands from his own party. Rep. Devin Nunes told reporters he was confident "enough" Republicans will back that measure to avoid any government shutdown.
    Dan Holler, the communications director for Heritage Action for America, said defunding Planned Parenthood should remain a top priority for congressional Republicans.
    "Speaker Boehner's plan was always to use Democrat votes. Those looking to replace him must decide if Planned Parenthood deserves taxpayer funding until mid-December, by which point the organization will have committed another 70,000 abortions," he said at the Values Voter Summit in Washington on Saturday. "Conservatives will be watching closely."

    White House releases contingency plans

    With only days to go before a potential shutdown, the White House on Saturday made public the contingency plans for over 70 federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Office of Personnel Management, if the federal government is not fully funded.
    Among the agencies, the Department of Homeland Security released the estimated amount of workers to be furloughed as 33,590 employees out of its normal workforce of 228,153 employees, including workers from agencies in the United States Secret Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
    The Department of Health and Human Services contingency plan states that 51% of its employees would be furloughed and a shutdown's effects would include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not having adequate resources to support its annual influenza program, as well as the National Institutes of Health being unable to admit new patients, unless deemed medically necessary by the NIH director.
    If the government shuts down, the Department of Interior will once again close all 401 national parks all across the country, affecting as many as 715,000 visitors each day.
    When the government shutdown in 2013, more than 80,000 federal workers were furloughed. If federal employees are furloughed, they will not be paid for that time unless Congress chooses to pay them retroactively when the government reopens. Congress approved a measure to do that for the last shutdown in 2013.
    Those who are not furloughed will still be legally required to work but they will not be paid until the shutdown is over.