The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Stopgap Spending Bill

Four points to remember about what unfolded early this morning in the House of Representatives and what it means for the stopgap spending bill, a potential government shutdown and FEMA.

1) A government shutdown is far from averted and if anything, the picture if far murkier now than it was previously.

2) House GOP leaders successfully halved their nay votes on the spending measure from 48 to 24, thus securing the bill's passage.

3) How quickly the fortunes change. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was in the driver's seat after the House defeated the spending bill Wednesday night. But after the House garnered the necessary votes, it's all House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) now.

4) The House is jamming the Senate by leaving town, daring the Senate not to pass the same bill it approved this morning.

To wit:

1) The picture about a government shutdown and a potential funding crisis for FEMA is much muddier because the House approved a bill this morning which Reid declared was dead on arrival. Earlier in the week, Reid suggested a potential government shutdown was in the cards and said that his side "would not cave" over the FEMA issue. Now is the time for Reid to put his money where his mouth is. The House has approved a bill which has dubious prospects in the Senate. Will Reid swallow hard and just accept the House bill since its members plan to leave town Friday afternoon?

2) House GOP leaders were in a bind after suffering 48 GOP defections on Wednesday's failed vote. Then on Thursday, the House added a provision to strip bankrupt energy firm Solyndra of its federal loans. That "sweetener," coupled with serious whipping and numerous heart-to-heart conversations, enabled the GOP to grab the votes it needed to pass the bill. On Wednesday, Republicans thought they could secure some Democrats to pass the bill. After all, Democrats have been the lynchpin to averting other crises, providing the votes to sidestep two government shutdowns and hike the debt ceiling . But only six Democrats voted in favor of the bill Wednesday. The GOP had to carry its own water on this one.

3) Many viewed Wednesday's failed House vote as a debacle for Boehner. With no bill passed, Reid suddenly found himself in the catbird seat. But Boehner quickly reversed his fortunes by picking up the necessary votes to approve the measure. In doing so, Boehner may have placed Reid in the weakest position he's found himself all year. How so? See #4.

4) Both Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) are emphatic that the House is adjourning Friday afternoon for an entire week. In effect, that could force the Senate to accept the House-passed bill. After all, if the House isn't in session, there's no way to "ping-pong" the package back and forth until the two chambers are in synch. In essence, the House is jamming the Senate. But what if Reid and other Democrats elect to stay and fight? That could spawn a government shutdown late next week and leave FEMA swinging in the balance. This is also frought with political peril. If the Democrats put up a fight, it is entirely possible that Republicans could then blame "Senate Democrats" for holding up the funding and pin the responsibility on them for a government shutdown.