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Congressional compromise likely to avoid government shutdown

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Emory University political scientist Randy Strahan expects the federal government to remain open for business as Republicans and Democrats struggle to reach a compromise to avoid a shutdown.      

“I don't think the Republican leadership in Congress wants a shutdown to happen, nor does the White House, because neither wants to be held politically responsible or to appear incapable of governing responsibly. I will be surprised if some compromise is not reached,” says Strahan, an expert on congressional politics.

Strahan says the wild card in this political situation is the group of conservative House Republicans who are close to the Tea Party movement. They appear to be willing to shut the government down to achieve larger spending cuts and may well vote against any compromise resolution.  However, it is likely that some Democrats would vote for a compromise, especially if the compromise is endorsed by President Obama, he says. 

Strahan says if a shutdown does occur, the long-term political impact is unclear. The last time a budget impasse led to a government shutdown in the 1990s—in the conflict between the Clinton White House and congressional Republicans led by Speaker Newt Gingrich, the shutdown hurt Republicans more.

However, at present Speaker John Boehner has a much lower public profile than Gingrich in 1995 and the result may be that the public holds the President responsible this time, “but the uncertainty about who may be hurt politically is one reason compromise seems likely,” Strahan says.

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