Brian Beutler previews the fight over the government shutdown at the end of March:
His acknowledgment is important for reasons explored in this article. If House Republicans can’t pass a government funding bill that sets overall spending at levels agreed to in the Budget Control Act — funding that would automatically be reduced because of sequestration — then the government will shutdown and the pressure Republicans feel to cut a deal that both averts sequestration and keeps the government running will intensify.
“We agreed to a certain amount of money that was going to be spent each year, and certain funding levels for our military, our education system, and so forth,” Obama said. “If we stick to that deal, I will be supportive. … The sequester are additional cuts on top of that, and by law, until Congress takes the sequester away we have to abide by those additional cuts, but there’s no reason why we should have another crisis by shutting the government down in addition to these arbitrary spending cuts.”
Thus, if Republicans try to rejigger the sequestration cuts such that they make the lower overall spending levels permanent, but rescind its indiscriminate cutting mechanism and thus remove the pressure on Congress to pass a balanced alternative, they’ll set off a government shutdown fight.
But if Republicans can pass a government funding bill that adheres to spending levels agreed to and set in 2011, then the government will stay open and the fight over sequestration will continue indefinitely.