John McCain, a fifth-term GOP senator from Arizona, has seen Washington budget dramas come and go. That might explain why, as he spoke with reporters Tuesday, the veteran lawmaker was confident that Congress will find a way to avoid a government shutdown next Tuesday at 12 a.m. (EST) sharp.
For the Senate’s “Maverick,” the ongoing battle over the shape and content of a temporary funding bill to keep the Pentagon and other federal agencies funded for one or two more months has but one conclusion. The only question, to McCain, is when House Republicans cave.
Asked by congressional reporters if the government shutdown drama ends any other way but with House Republicans dropping their bid to use the continuing resolution to kill funding for the president’s signature health care law, McCain bluntly replied: “No. No other way.”
“As soon as we have 67 votes in the United States Senate,” moderate Republicans will join with tea party GOP members like Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah to kill the law known as Obamacare, McCain said. “Unfortunately, we’re not close to it yet.”
That’s the number of votes needed to override a presidential veto. And the White House has made clear Obama would veto any government-wide spending bill that would de-fund the Affordable Care Act.
“We’ll end up not shutting the government down,” McCain said. “And we will not de-fund Obamacare. That’s how the movie ends.”
(And, for the record, McCain’s theory tracks right with Nos. 1 and 2 from my list of possible shutdown showdown scenarios I laid out yesterday over on the mother ship, DefenseNews.coom.)