Today, the House of Representatives passed a budget to fund the federal government for the fiscal year that started back on October 1st and the next fiscal year. Media types are falling over each other to declare that Speaker John Boehner has finally "had it" with the Tea Party and is asserting his independence from the more radical fringe of his party.
And while I suppose a modest golf clap is in order for our elected officials for having achieved what is essentially the bare minimum of running our government, the passage of a two-year framework has an obvious benefit that is being little reported in the national media - the assurance that there is no government shutdown come October 1, 2014, or roughly 1 month before every member of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate are up for re-election.  No politician in Washington wants every newscast from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon (not to mention every broadcast and cable news channel) leading their newscasts with stories of parks being shut down or workers being kept home.
What the budget deal does is ensure that incumbents are protected against the one piece of political drama that could seriously affect their chances at re-election. Other pieces of legislation, from immigration reform to gun control have been bottled up in one way or the other and the House is only going to be in session for 98 days before Election Day 2014. The Republicans' main objective next November is simply to retain control of one chamber of Congress, and passing a budget now that avoids any risk of a messy October was the easiest way to do it. Having already locked in 99% of George W. Bush's tax rates, cut domestic spending to its lowest level relative to GDP since the 1950s, and with states gerrymandering Congressional districts in a way that makes it extremely difficult to oust incumbents, winning the Senate would be icing on the cake, but virtually guaranteeing the chances of retaining the House ensures the GOP exactly what it wants - a 2 year struggle leading into 2016 where they can bemoan the dysfunction in Washington they have themselves created.
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1. Indeed, Majority Leader Cantor's calendar for 2014 shows the House will meet a whopping TWO days in October (the 1st and the 2nd) before adjourning until November 12th! http://majorityleader.gov/Calendar/113thCongressSecondSession.pdf