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Capital Crapshoot

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JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT THE SESSION COULDN'T GET ANY WEIRDER...

Perhaps inspired by those Texas Democrats who ran off to Oklahoma, Sen. Linda Binder, a Republican from Lake Havasu, announced plans earlier this week to flee the Capitol without casting an all-important vote on the GOP's $6.2 billion budget. Without her vote, Republicans are one shy of the 16 needed to pass the budget.

And the Republican leadership had hoped for such a quick end to things: persuade the moderates to vote for the budget, end the session, wait for Gov, Janet Napolitano's anticipated veto, then come back for a special session to--well, we're not sure if anyone knows what the next step is, exactly.

As of press time, Binder--whose bills were publicly targeted for destruction earlier this session by GOP leaders--had announced her intentions of going on a three-week Australian honeymoon. She also tells the press she wants to see Republicans spend another $40 million on education and healthcare programs.

Binder's plans to go on walkabout leaves the session, already crawling through its 18th week, in a weird limbo--will lawmakers simply declare sine die without passing a budget and return to a special session when Binder returns? Or will they now stop screwing around and start actually negotiating with the governor's office?

Moderate Republicans are privately grousing that they only reason they've gone along with the Republican budget--which is $500 million less than Napolitano's proposed $6.7 billion spending plan--is to get the budget to the governor's desk for a veto so that serious negotiations can begin.

Binder's disappearing act has foiled even that plan, leaving the GOP East Valley wacko wing looking weak and embarrassed.

Yet another round to Janet.


CRAPPED OUT

With most legislative work completed, we're done rolling out regular editions of Capitol Crapshoot--but it appears likely that special editions are in our future. Coming next: continued monitoring of the Government Shutdown Watch.

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