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More signs of intelligent life in the House

The Hill reports that key House Republicans seem to be on board with their leadership’s plan to pass a six-month government-funding measure that would reflect the budget cuts from the sequester. The absence of such a measure would cause the government to shut down after March 27 when the current stopgap funding bill runs out.

House Democrats are expected to oppose the resolution as a protest against the reduced level of funding that results from the sequester. If so, the resolution won’t pass the House unless Republicans are nearly unanimous in supporting it. The leadership probably can afford only 15 or so Republican defections. But the Hill’s reporting suggests that there won’t be that many.

If the House passes the funding measure, Senate Democrats will face a dilemma. If they refuse to pass the bill, then they will own the government shut down. If they pass it, they will swallow the cuts imposed by the sequester.

Those cuts won’t defund Obamacare, as some conservatives had hoped to do. And, of course, they won’t solve the debt crisis. But they are a start.

They are also all the Republicans can get just now. If past experience, bolstered by current public opinion polling, is any guide, a government shutdown is likely to end not in bigger cuts, but in tears for Republicans who will have jeopardized their chances of holding the House in 2014.

No wonder so few House Republicans are balking at the leadership’s plan. Our side is beginning to match the quality of strategic thinking displayed by the Democrats in recent times.

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