Bryan Baumgart – Chairman, Douglas County Republican Party
It was said it couldn’t be done. It was said it shouldn’t be done. Yet on September 20th, House Republicans set their plan in motion by passing H.R.2682 (The Defund Obamacare Act). A plan that would fully fund the federal government; sparing Americans from both a government shutdown and the impending Obamacare train wreck. In the end, Senate Democrats chose to refuse the funding and allow the government to be shut down.
Today the Republican strategy picks up steam as vulnerable Senate Democrats are placed squarely on the hot seat. After Democrats refused funding for the entire federal government, Republicans responded by passing partial funding bills on popular issues (with bi-partisan support). Senate Democrats have vowed not to negotiate and continue to kill funding for these popular issues such as veterans benefits, cancer research, pay for our National Guard and Reserves, funding for nutritional food programs for low-income women and children, disaster relief, etc.
These are certainly not winning positions for vulnerable Senate Democrats in 2014. You can bet Republicans will continue to push Democrats hard for their refusal to negotiate. Cracks have already begun to surface as an exception was made to unanimously pass the “Pay Our Military Act” to fund our active-duty military as well as civilian Defense Department employees and contractors. It was immediately signed into law by the president.
Working against the Democrat’s strategy to shut down the government is the fact that it hasn’t been particularly painful for American voters. Forbes estimates that only 13% of the government has actually shut down. In an effort to sway public sentiment, President Obama has ordered national parks and monuments barricaded, select government websites shutdown, as well as Amber Alerts and access to the open ocean. A Park Service Ranger was recently quoted as saying, “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.” This order came from the White House. When President Obama forbade priests and chaplains from celebrating religious services on military bases, the House overrode his order by a vote of 400-1 and dared Senate Democrats to side with the president.
The plan has all but backfired on Democrats as stories surface of World War II and Vietnam War vets facing arrest for viewing their own memorials. Once again, not behavior that vulnerable Senate Democrats want to be associated with, particularly from independents who are undecided about who to blame for the shutdown. The Republicans aren’t shy to shine the spotlight on the issue either. A new website has been set up by Senator Ted Cruz’s PAC called (FundOurVets.com). The site calls for legislation to fully fund the Department of Veterans Affairs. If vulnerable Senate Democrats don’t cave and support the funding it benefits their Republican opponents in 2014. If they do cave, the Republican argument becomes: You have voted for funding for our active military and then again for the Department of Veterans Affairs, why are you holding out on funding other important issues such as opening our national parks or feeding the needy?
The Republican strategy remains focused on motivating Democrats to compromise and accept either delays or significant limits on Obamacare. In the interim, Republicans can take solace in knowing that not only has Obamacare not received the necessary additional funding for implementation, but until Democrats are willing to negotiate, some of their key issues remain unfunded such as the Environmental Protection Agency and furloughs at the National Labor Relations Board. In the end, the Republican strategy is likely to end with both beneficial compromise on Obamacare and a significant advantage heading into the 2014 election cycle.