Not much shutdown talk this year with an election looming

A year ago, U.S. Rep. Tom Graves was rallying support along with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz to demand a halt to Obamacare in any deal to fund the government past the end of the month.

Last week, the Republican from Ranger was explaining why a smooth process to “keep the government running at a responsible (funding) level” was the way to go.

As Congress came back into town with the chief business of passing a "continuing resolution" to fund the government for a few months, there's virtually no shutdown drama — despite the occasional dissatisfied rumblings from Cruz.

So what’s changed? Obamacare is still alive and kicking, along with plenty of other policies Republicans find odious.

Oh right. Something is happening Nov. 4.

“The Republicans really learned their lesson from that,” U.S. Rep. David Scott, an Atlanta Democrat, said about last year’s three-week partial government shutdown. “Everything is political now. We’re 50 days off from an election. No side wants to make any mistakes.”

Graves contended that the election was not a factor, and he even insisted House Republicans were not changing their responsible approach from a year ago. But when asked why the Obamacare crusade has not carried on in a similar fashion, Graves did mention the election.

“The American people understand that change in Obamacare is simply not possible with this president and Harry Reid running the Senate,” Graves said. “Now it’s the American people’s turn to voice their outrage over Obamacare. They can do that in November this year with the Senate and the presidential election in 2016.”

There was some confusion and reversal in the House on a continuing resolution vote last week, but it was because of a last-minute request from the White House on the emerging war against the militant group the Islamic State. A House vote on the spending package could come this week.

Weighty matters of war are a factor in this relative fiscal peace, too.

“It’s pretty obvious that the world situation is unsettled in a lot of places,” said Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia. “Crimea and Ukraine, the Middle East, we’ve got challenges everywhere. And the last thing in the world we need to do right now is shut down the government.”

More money to tackle Ebola

The proposed continuing resolution includes an extra $88 million to fight Ebola in West Africa, much of which is going through the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC budget is under the jurisdiction of outgoing U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, the Savannah Republican who is chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees health spending. He said he was pleased to see the extra money.

“With Ebola, you don’t know how big it’s going to grow, and you do not want to wait to get there,” Kingston said.

On the Senate side, Dr. Kent Brantly — a medical missionary who was rushed back from Liberia and recovered from Ebola at Emory University Hospital last month — will testify Tuesday about the disease, along with CDC chief Tom Frieden.

Vote of the week

The U.S. House voted, 247-167, Thursday to allow people to stay on their group insurance health plans — some of which do not meet new requirements under Obamacare — through 2019.

Yes: John Barrow, D-Augusta; Paul Broun, R-Athens; Doug Collins, R-Gainesville; Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta; Tom Graves, R-Ranger; Jack Kingston, R-Savannah; Tom Price, R-Roswell; Austin Scott, R-Tifton; Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County; Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville.

No: Sanford Bishop, D-Albany; Hank Johnson, D-DeKalb County; John Lewis, D-Atlanta; David Scott, D-Atlanta.