By John Stang
Since November, the President Obama has faced numerous showdowns with the Republican Congress. There was the April government shutdown debate and then the debt ceiling drama at the end of July. Now, a new fight could be on the horizon for the administration over the possibility of another government shutdown. The fiscal year ends on September 30 and unless congress passes a budget or a temporary stopgap measure, the government runs out of money and closes its doors. The Washington Post reports:
The bill, which will keep federal agencies funded through Nov, 18, passed over staunch objections from Democrats, who opposed a provision that would pair increased funding for disaster relief with a spending cut to a program that makes loans to car companies to encourage the production of energy-efficient cars.
The measure is likely to fail in the senate and the House is going on vacation until October 3rd. Meaning, the House has just said, “Either the senate passes this, or no deal.” Most people thought that at least a temporary stopgap measure would make it through, but I guess compromise still remains a dirty word.
In another fight, Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, will file paperwork to have the U.N. Security Council consider a motion to recommend statehood to the U.N. General Assembly. It will most likely be vetoed by U.S. Other options remain as Reuters discusses:
The Security Council could delay action on Abbas’ request, giving the mediating “Quartet” — the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — more time to craft a declaration that could coax the two sides back to the table. But the Quartet, whose envoys met for several hours on Thursday, may be unable to agree on a statement that could satisfy both Israel and the Palestinians.Another option, advanced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, would see the Palestinians go to the General Assembly, which could vote to upgrade the Palestinians from an “entity” to a “non-member state” while reviving direct peace talks. That could allow the Palestinians to pursue Israel in war crimes tribunals, but European diplomats are seeking a tacit assurance they would not do so as long as negotiations last.
While both fights are unrelated, I’m not Thomas Friedman and I won’t try to be, each poses a challenge to the Obama administration. The government shutdown fight just depends on the PR push of the administration. If they say that this occurred because the House left town and decided not to do their job, then they win. However, if the House says the senate should have done its job and passed the bill they proposed, then they win. Both depend on which excuse the public buys.
For the Palestinian debate, vetoing won’t hurt him with the GOP. On the contrary, it will make him look like he’s standing up for Israel. It will disappoint his base however. Also, the U.S. have officially taken a stand on the topic in an international forum vote. That matters and it will hurt the U.S. position as a negotiating country. Bottom line: these votes and media plays will have consequences for the President. This could make or break his re-election chances. He better be on his “A” game.