In case you missed it, the FY2014 omnibus appropriation, which will keep the government funded through the September 30, that is, through the end of the fiscal year, passed the Senate yesterday 72-26. It was adopted by the House the day before 359 to 67.
Here are the five quick reasons why the votes were so big and bipartisan.
1. The GOP is still hurting from the October government shutdown. There's no doubt that the negative political repercussions from being blamed for this October's two-week shutdown is haunting House Republicans. As happened after the 1995-1996 shutdowns when congressional Republicans took it on the chin politically, the chances of a shutdown being threatened again any time soon are now significantly lower than they were several months ago and the omnibus was the first opportunity for the House GOP leadership to take advantage of this new sentiment.
It's been less than a week since House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) surprised the political world by publicly and directly taking on the right wing groups -- and, by inference, the tea party wing of the GOP -- two days in a row. He then openly defied them by allowing the House to vote on a budget deal that was a compromise with Democrats they didn't like.
Four days later the question is whether this was a permanent change for Boehner. Will he continue to tell the tea partiers in his caucus, the Club for Growth, Heritage Action and the others he so resoundingly criticized that they can go to hell, or was this a one-time event not likely to be repeated?
The indications are that this was a not permanent change in the speaker's political testosterone level. Here's why.
Some quick thoughts this morning:
1. It's still no better than 50-50 ("a coin flip" as @thefix said to me on Washington Post TV last week) that the debt ceiling will be raised by October 17, the date Treasury says it will run out of the ability to use "extraordinary measures" and the government will have to operate just from the cash it has on hand every day.
2. If anything the situation has gotten worse rather than better over the past few days with House Republicans in open warfare against their GOP Senate colleagues. It appears that House Republicans need to get something out of the box the are in with the government shutdown and debt ceiling even if it means extracting a pound of political flesh from their own party to do it.
3. Let me say this yet again as directly as possible: John Boehner (R-OH) is the weakest and least effective speaker in my lifetime, and he may come close to taking the all-time title.
All government shutdown-concerned eyes yesterday seemed to be on the two meetings that took place at the White House. Financial company CEOs met with the president in the morning and congressional leaders in the late afternoon.
But the real shutdown news was being made in Connecticut, where United Technologies announced that it would furlough 2000 workers each of the next two weeks if the shutdown continues.
The reason these nonfederal workers will stop being paid? Because the Defense Contract Management Agency is closed and its inspectors aren't available to review the Black Hawk helicopters the company is making for the Pentagon.
If they happen, the layoffs will occur in Stratford, Connecticut; West Palm Beach, Florida, and Troy, Alabama.
This is exactly the kind of news that will rapidly change the politics of the shutdown and make it easier/mandatory for a member of Congress who so far has supported the shutdown or refused to admit defeat to insist the government be reopened.
I will admit right upfront that there is a little bit of wishful thinking in what you're about to read.
But it's only a little bit. And my realizing that it exists hasn't changed my analysis that a government shutdown could be the point that historians one day point to as the beginning of the end for the tea partiers in Congress.
I've come to this conclusion for two reasons
First, many people don't remember that the beginning of the end of Newt Gingrich's speakership began when Republicans were blamed for the two shutdowns in 1995 and 1996.
The comparison is anything but perfect. But given that Gingrich and congressional Republicans were far more popular in the mid-1990s than the tea party is today, and in light of the fact that the tea party and not House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is most likely to bear the blame if a shutdown occurs, there's a good reason to think that at least some of the TP's supporters will find themselves cursing the tea party's name very soon, especially when the shutdown begins to affect them negatively.