The next shutdown showdown, by the numbers
By Mike DeBonis September 15 at 3:47 PM
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are are working to avoid a government shutdown. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
As the clock ticks toward midnight on Sept. 30 — when federal appropriations will expire and nonessential government functions will shut down if Congress cannot agree on a new spending measure — plenty of attention is being showered on the issues and personalities that could prompt a shutdown.
But it’s also a matter of sheer arithmetic. Whether you’re talking about defunding Planned Parenthood or breaking the budget caps known as sequestration, this shutdown showdown is going to come down to a few key numbers:
30: The number of House Republicans necessary to block any measure from passing the chamber without Democratic support. If Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and his leadership team lose 30 or more Republicans on any given vote, that means relying on Democrats — thus giving the minority party negotiating leverage.
31: The number of House Republicans who have publicly vowed not to vote on any spending bill that includes funding for Planned Parenthood. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) circulated a letter among his colleagues informing GOP leaders that its signers “cannot and will not support any funding resolution — an appropriations bill, an omnibus package, a continuing resolution, or otherwise — that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood, including mandatory funding streams.”
60: The number of senators it takes to overcome procedural hurdles and pass legislation. Any spending bill proposed ahead of the deadline will have to attain this level of support to pass the Senate.
55: The number of senators who currently support defunding Planned Parenthood. In an Aug. 3 test vote, a procedural vote on a defunding bill, failed 53 to 46. Two Democrats, Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.), joined with 51 Republicans. Another Republican, Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) was absent but supports defunding, while Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) voted no for procedural reasons, so he could quickly restage the vote at a future date. One Republican, Mark Kirk (Ill.), joined with Democrats to oppose defunding. Long story short: Five senators, most or all of them Democrats, would have to change their minds to advance a bill defunding Planned Parenthood.
67: The number of senators it takes to overcome a presidential veto, which President Obama has promised in the case of legislation defunding Planned Parenthood. So, in fact, 12 senators would have to change their minds to advance such a bill.
$523 billion: The amount of defense spending authorized for fiscal 2016 under the sequestration budget caps.
$493 billion: The amount of nondefense spending authorized for fiscal 2016 under the sequestration budget caps.
$96 billion: The increase over sequestration-level defense spending proposed by congressional Republicans earlier this year.
$89 billion: The increase over sequestration-level defense spending proposed by President Obama in his fiscal 2016 budget request.
$0: The increase over sequestration-level nondefense spending proposed by congressional Republicans earlier this year.
$50 billion: The increase over sequestration-level nondefense spending proposed by President Obama in his fiscal 2016 budget request.
Six to nine: The estimated number of legislative days it would require to circumvent objections from any one senator on a stopgap spending bill. Like the 31 House members, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has pledged to oppose any spending bill that continues funding for Planned Parenthood.
Eight: The number of scheduled legislative days remaining before the end of the fiscal year.
Paul Kane and Kelsey Snell contributed to this report.
Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.