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Analysis: Congress Hopes To Avoid Budget Battle, O'Malley's PAC

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As the end of this fiscal year approaches on Sept. 30, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are working to avoid another threat of a government shutdown through a bipartisan senate bill introduced this week that would serve as a stopgap measure if appropriations bills aren't passed in time. Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) flexes his political muscle with a new political action committee. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, talks with WAMU Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey about this week in politics. 

On why lawmakers are actually acting on the funding bill ahead of the deadline: "Because two months from now on Oct. 1, which is one month before the election, neither side wants to have any blame or have anybody worried that they're the ones prompting the threat of a government shutdown," Hawkings says. "Around the country it's a referendum, essentially a proxy for government competence, and neither side wants to be blamed for not being able to do this very basic function."

What the deal will entail: "There's been a rare bipartisan agreement, they are going to decide maybe even as early as next week, but probabky in early sept, to kick the can down the road," Hawkings says. "But a good way down the road, way beyond the start of the fiscal year. The earliest they would kick it to is Christmas, and it may be even deep into next year."

On what this would mean for appropriations bills: "This would essentially postpone the debate over appropriations bills into the new year," Hawkings says. "The only real debate here is how much to spend, and they're not that far apart. Democrats want to spend about $19 billion more than Republicans. It sounds like a lot of money; it's really about a 2 percent difference."

Initial impacts of Martin O'Malley's new 'O' Say Can You See' PAC: "It's what they call a leadership PAC, where you collect money that you then spend on things that promote your political career," Hawkings says. "Inititially at least, he wants to spend the money to help him get through the two ballot referendums he's all-in on for November: affirming the right to gay marriage and Maryland's version of the so-called DREAM Act."

On O'Malley's larger aspirations: "Beyond that, he wants to start giving money to other politicians around the county in such states as oh, New Hampshire and Iowa, places that have presidential primaries," Hawkings says. "Because everyone believes Martin O'Malley is running for president in four years."

 

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