Shutdown Round-Up

The shutdown of the federal government has entered its second day:

WASHINGTON — Two days in, Congress is no closer to resolving the first government shutdown in 17 years.

President Obama is calling the top four congressional leaders down to the White House for a meeting Wednesday afternoon. A White House official said the president will urge the House to pass a stopgap funding bill to reopen the government, and ask Congress to raise the debt ceiling ahead of an Oct. 17 deadline.

“We’re pleased the president finally recognizes that his refusal to negotiate is indefensible. It’s unclear why we’d be having this meeting if it’s not meant to be a start to seriou

House Republicans are moving forward again Wednesday with a legislative strategy to advance piecemeal funding bills to reopen popular parts of the federal government including parks and national memorials and the Department of Veterans Affairs until a broader budget agreement is reached. Republicans continue to seek concessions on the Affordable Care Act in exchange for passage of the funding bill.s talks between the two parties,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

“What I don’t understand is why the president and the Senate Democrats will not agree to come talk to those of us that have deep concerns about the fairness of what is Obamacare. And that to me, is just not understandable to people in my district and across the country,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, a conservative Republican, told CBS’s This Morning.

Senate Democrats and Obama oppose the piecemeal approach and continue to call on Republicans to approve the Senate-passed stopgap funding bill through Nov. 15 that has no provisions affecting the health care law. Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., challenged Boehner to allow a vote on the bill, which appears to have the support to pass on the votes of Democrats and moderate Republicans.

or, said another way, as of this writing matters are no farther along than they were yesterday at this time.

A host of different opinions are being offered on the shutdown.

House Speaker John Boehner says the shutdown is the president’s fault:

The president isn’t telling the whole story when it comes to the government shutdown. The fact is that Washington Democrats have slammed the door on reopening the government by refusing to engage in bipartisan talks. And, as stories across the country highlight the devastating impact of Obamacare on families and small businesses, they continue to reject our calls for fairness for all Americans.

This is part of a larger pattern: the president’s scorched-Earth policy of refusing to negotiate in bipartisan way on his health care law, current government funding, or the debt limit.

The New York Times editors say it’s John Boehner’s fault:

By Tuesday morning, the leadership failure of Speaker John Boehner was complete. In encouraging the impossible quest of House Republicans to dismantle health care reform, he pushed the country into a government shutdown that will now begin to take a grievous economic toll.

At any point, Mr. Boehner could have stopped it. Had he put on the floor a simple temporary spending resolution to keep the government open, without the outrageous demands to delay or defund the health reform law, it could easily have passed the House with a strong majority — including with sizable support from Republican members, many of whom are aware of how badly this collapse will damage their party.

But Mr. Boehner refused. He stood in the well of the House and repeated the tired falsehood that the Affordable Care Act was killing jobs. He came up with a series of increasingly ridiculous demands: defund the health law, delay it for a year, stop its requirement that employers pay for contraception, block the medical device tax, delay the individual mandate for a year, strip Congressional employees of their health subsidies. All were instantly rejected by the Senate. “They’ve lost their minds,” Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, said of the House Republicans. “They keep trying to do the same thing over and over again.”

Finally, at the last minute, when there was still time to end the charade with a straightforward spending bill, Mr. Boehner made the most absurd demand of all: an immediate conference committee with the Senate. Suddenly, with less than an hour left, he wanted to set up formal negotiations?

The editors of the Washington Post blame the Republicans:

AMERICANS’ RESPECT for their Congress has, sad to say, diminished in recent years. But citizens still expect a minimal level of competence and responsibility: Pay the bills and try not to embarrass us in front of the world.

By those minimal standards, this Congress is failing. More specifically, the Republican leaders of the House of Representatives are failing. They should fulfill their basic duties to the American people or make way for legislators who will.

We don’t come to that view as rabid partisans. On many of the issues stalemating Washington, we find plenty of blame to go around. We’ve criticized President Obama’s reluctance to pursue entitlement reform. The last time the country reached the debt ceiling, we urged both sides to compromise on revenue and spending in the interest of long-term fiscal soundness.

This time, fiscal responsibility isn’t even a topic. Instead, Republicans have shut much of the government in what they had to know was a doomed effort to derail the Affordable Care Act.

The editors of the Christian Science Monitor blame it on the voters:

A government shutdown is a mighty weapon to wield in American politics. It towers over a Senate filibuster, the gerrymandered district, or the walkout of one party in the House. It goes far beyond the tools of blockage provided in the Constitution, such as the presidential veto or the Supreme Court ruling overturning a law of Congress. It is gridlock writ large upon the daily lives of the American people.

Yet even as blame for a shutdown is assigned to one party or both – or only the tea party – Americans need to recognize how much they created this gridlock instead of a Goldilocks government of not-too-hot-not-too-cold cooperation.

In the political blogosphere comment is mostly along the expected lines—where you stand depends on where you sit. There have been some useful contributions. Kathy Gill of The Moderate Voice puts the shutdown into some historical perspective:

Democrats have led more shutdowns than Republicans. Federal government shutdown begins in the House of Representatives. Republicans have controlled the House for eight sessions since 1976; Democrats have controlled the House for 12.

I believe that government shutdowns can always be attributed to a failure of leadership and Kathy’s graph certainly supports that. The heavyweight champ of government shutdowns was Jimmy Carter who managed to shut down the federal government for 56 days of his single four year term with Democrats in control of both the House and the Senate.

I don’t mean just presidential leadership. I mean Congressional leadership as well.

I reject the CSM’s contention. If I had not voted for Mike Quigley for the House of Representatives, how would that have changed the outcome? It wouldn’t have changed it at all. And, contrary to the Monitor’s beliefs, Chicago voters are plenty engaged with politics. Over-engaged, if anything. In the precincts in which I’ve served as election judge, 75-85% of the voters turn out for a typical general election. How would 100% turnout have changed things? Nothing but heroic efforts on the part of ordinary citizens will effect change. Is it reasonable to demand heroic efforts from ordinary citizens and not demand basic honesty or competence from elected officials?

7 comments… add one
  • sam

    Bryon York, notorious liberal, puts it this way: How 30 House Republicans are forcing the Obamacare fight.

    If the Speaker, who is the only one who can in the House, I say if the Speaker would bring the bill the Senate sent back to the House to the floor for a vote, it would pass. But he’s afraid of 1) losing his job if he thwarts the the Tea Party folks and 2) being “primaried” ( and maybe losing his seat) if thwarts them.

    There’s a war going on the House Republican caucus (egged on by the execrable Ted Cruz), and those who would like to pass a clean CR are being stymied by the above referenced 30. Or as one Republican member told York:

    “Analysts say the Congressional GOP doesn’t understand strategy,” the Republican said. “I’m like, ‘Congressional GOP’ my ass! It’s 30 idiots who can’t get us to 217.”

  • PD Shaw

    I do like this line: “The humility to find a balance between standing by one’s principles and accommodating the principles of others does not begin in Washington.”

    I don’t know if agree with the next line: “It comes from each voter.” Voters are not given a lot of leeway on voting for balance. They get a couple of choices, and the winner is constrained by rules of accommodation for other elected officials, leadership/seniority and by the requirements of group action. Many will vote for someone they trust, without necessarily knowing what issues they may face. Voting for divided government, which America collectively did, is a way of requiring accommodation isn’t it?

  • PD Shaw

    Better next line: “It comes from those who set out to shape the opinions of others, whether it be voter, editorial writer or politician.”

    @sam, I think the vote counts are debatable, but it is the “majority of the majority” rule that protects the Speaker’s position and chills bi-partisan compromise.

  • sam

    “but it is the “majority of the majority” rule”

    That’s an informal Republican rule, the so-called Hastert Rule. It is not a rule of the House. If he were more interested in the health of the country than in the health of his Speakership, he’d tell the Tea Party cadre the jig was up, and bring the clean CR to the floor.

  • If the Speaker, who is the only one who can in the House, I say if the Speaker would bring the bill the Senate sent back to the House to the floor for a vote, it would pass.

    The last whip count I’ve seen says that it wouldn’t. If every Democrat voted for a “clean CR” it would still take 17 Republicans. The last count I’ve seen is 14. Has that changed in the last couple of hours?

  • PD Shaw

    @sam, I think Pelosi used it also, perhaps not as rigidly as Republicans. (See Hastert Rule at Wikipedia) I don’t like the informal rule, but don’t know if its better than the alternative of using the rules committee to bury bills.

  • sam

    “The last count I’ve seen is 14. Has that changed in the last couple of hours?”

    WaPo’s The Fix’s ‘clean’ CR whip count has the count at 16, with 4 leaning Yes.

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