The odds of a shutdown by the federal government have plummeted with the stunning resignation of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
But analysts think the short-term gains could lead to another messy situation come December, when Congress will run up against another slew of fiscal deadlines.
Boehner essentially sacrificed his speakership to avoid a shutdown. House Republican aides told Business Insider the plan was to move a “clean” funding bill next week, and conservative members of the Republican caucus left a meeting Friday morning telling reporters they would support the spending bill.
The “clean” bill will keep the government funded through December 11 – without any strings attached. The Senate is set to pass it on Monday, when it will be sent to the House.
And that’s where the chances of chaos pick up. Congress needs to raise the nation’s debt ceiling sometime this fall, and the deadlines could come up against one another – much as they did in 2013, when the federal government shut down for 17 days.
“In the (very) short-term, this is a positive, though the immediate sugar rush of keeping the government from shutting down (lowering our odds from 30% to 15%) should give everyone a stomach ache in December when we will be back to a shutdown scare AND the debt ceiling,” said Chris Krueger, an analyst at Guggenheim Securities.
The US has hit its debt limit – the Treasury Department is using typical “extraordinary measures” to continue paying the nation’s bills. The Congressional Budget Office has said the so-called X date – the date at which the debt ceiling will have to be raised or the country will begin defaulting on its obligations – will come sometime between mid-November and mid-December.
“We are increasing our odds from a 10% probability to a 25% probability of some kind of accident that would keep Congress from raising the debt ceiling in time due to brinkmanship, procrastination, or political gridlock,” Krueger said.
Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer thinks the same:
Boehner resignation = House leadership fight
End of year Debt Ceiling Breach / Govt Shutdown just got more likely
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) September 25, 2015
Multiple Republican and Democratic congressional aides agreed with the assessment that December could get messy in Washington. In December, Republicans and Democrats look set to again bicker over whether the government should fund Planned Parenthood – as well as over military and domestic spending.
President Barack Obama and Democrats want to increase spending beyond the agreed-upon caps of the 2011 budget sequester, while most Republicans want to lift only military spending while making further cuts on the domestic side. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has said Obama will not support legislation that “locks in those sequester caps that neglect our economic and national-security priorities.”
Then there’s the debt ceiling, a recurring fight during which Republicans consistently demand concessions from the White House and Democrats in exchange for raising the nation’s borrowing limit. Boehner, while pushing that limit to the brink several times, stayed true to public statements and never allowed a debt-ceiling breach.
“Almost by definition, Boehner’s ouster would be the cause of tea-party-aligned lawmakers who would either elect one of their own as speaker or command a much greater control over the legislative agenda,” Krueger said. “With the ‘Boehner put’ in place, there is little risk of the US passing the debt ceiling X date or other economically destructive policies.
“Without Boehner, all bets are off.”