Disaster threatens as Congress returns for the final weeks of the year

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

It’s the most perilous time of the year for the nation, when months of Republican infighting and obstruction and poison pills culminates into a fight over whether or not to keep the government open, and who has to be sacrificed in order to do that. It became routine to have these fights while President Obama was in office and Republicans lost their minds, but even with a “unified” Republican government, they just can’t seem to help themselves.

The remainder of the calendar year is going to be chaotic and ugly, because Republicans are incapable of governing responsibly and will insist on blaming Democrats for that fact.

“There shouldn’t be any discussion about shutting down the government. We can make this thing work. We just need to get people at the table, negotiate it,” Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the third-ranking Republican senator, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

But informal talks have been abortive, and bitter partisan divides over spending, health care and immigration threaten to set up an impasse. […]

While Republicans try to wrap up their tax effort, they must negotiate with Democrats on the litany of other governing items. The first step toward a resolution will be reaching an agreement on government spending levels for 2018 and perhaps beyond, lifting caps imposed under a bipartisan 2011 budget deal.

“I just say, be ready for a potentially wild month in December,” said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee who for months has pushed GOP leaders to reach a spending accord with Democrats. “This is going to get a bit complicated.”

On the list besides keeping government open after December 8, when the current continuing resolution expires: the disastrous GOP tax plan; resolving the DACA impasse imperiling young immigrants; funding for the Children’s Health Insurance program which expired 58 days ago; Trump’s insistence that defense spending be hiked by at least $150 billion; aid to disaster victims from the trio of hurricanes—Harvey, Irma and Maria—and western wildfires; restoring the Affordable Care Acts cost-sharing reduction payments to health insurers which Trump cut off; Trump’s insistence that “we will Repeal & Replace [Obamacare] right after Tax Cuts!”; reauthorizing a controversial provision of the PATRIOT Act that allows intelligence agencies to gather foreign electronic communications on U.S. soil, often sweeping up domestic communications; and whether or not to reimpose sanctions on Iran that were lifted following Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal, now that Trump has declared that Iran isn’t complying.

And Trump, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell are in charge of making all this happen. Good luck to us all.