The Senate passed the Continuing Resolution 79-16 this afternoon. Another way of saying that: The Senate voted to defund the implementation of both health-care reform and financial-regulation reform. The good news is that law will keep the government’s lights on until early March. The bad news is that the law does it by extending 2010’s funding resolution — and that resolution didn’t include provisions for implementing the bills that were passed as the year went on.Republicans had been talking about attacking the health-reform law by defunding it, but few thought they’d succeed without a fight. The assumption was that Democrats would shut down the government before they let Republicans take that money. But as it happened, there was no fight at all. The omnibus spending bill collapsed, and the continuing resolution compromise was reached within a few days. Most senators probably don’t even know the implications their vote had for the implementation of bills passed over the past year.
This is, of course, a temporary resolution. So we might still see a fight on this early next year, or much more to the point, in March. In the meantime, the various agencies charged with implementing 2010’s legislative achievements will have to do more with less — which probably means they’ll have to do less, and what they do get done will get done less well. You might also see them making strategic decisions about what they do and don’t get done. To put it another way, if the Republicans are going to force the executive branch to cut back its activities, the executive branch may focus the cutbacks in sectors the Republicans rather like.