There’s lots of evidence this morning that people should be prepared for a prolonged government shutdown:
1. John Boehner has an op-ed in USA Today, in which he blames President Obama for the shutdown. Headline: “Obama owns this shutdown now.” From the op-ed: “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.”
2. Robert Costa in National Review writes: “The same question keeps popping up: Why doesn’t Speaker John Boehner just pass a ‘clean’ continuing resolution to fund the government? It’s a ubiquitous query at the Capitol, and it was asked many times this afternoon as House Republicans left their closed-door conference meeting. But most Republicans, when pressed by reporters, rolled their eyes. They know what Boehner knows: A clean CR has never been an option.” And this all could get lumped in with a debt-limit fight: “The leadership is digging in for an extended impasse with Senate Democrats. Based on my latest conversations with insiders, their plan isn’t to eventually whip Republicans toward a clean CR and back down after a few days of messaging the shutdown, as some have believed; it’s to keep fighting, and, in the process, preserve the House GOP’s fragile unity — and maybe, if they’re lucky, win a concession from Senate majority leader Harry Reid. But that unity, more than anything, is critical for Boehner, especially as the debt limit nears.”
3. A House leadership aide told First Read: “Our conference has never been more united. They have been in the fight, and now they want to win it.”
4. Republicans tried and failed to pass funding measures on three politically popular items for: the VA to deal with a backlog of claims, the National Parks Service, and funding DC to pay for police. The House needed a two-thirds majority for them to pass, but Democrats stood against the bill, accusing Republicans of “cherry-picking.” A pick-your-government piecemeal strategy while refusing to fund the rest until the president negotiates on his health-care law is not something President Obama is going to have any part of, and he threatened to veto the effort.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid again urged Boehner to pass a clean CR and “stop the games”: "Speaker Boehner has the votes to re-open the government and he knows it. By refusing to let the House vote on the only bill that will re-open the government, Speaker Boehner is single-handedly keeping the government shut down. It is time for Speaker Boehner to stop the games, think about the people he is hurting, and let the House pass the Senate's bill to re-open the government with Republican and Democratic votes."
So what’s the end game? NBCNews.com’s Tom Curry looks at five possibilities: 1. Republicans fold, 2. A short-term CR to fund just some agencies, 3. The impasse goes on for weeks and get rolled into debt-limit negotiations, 4. The government remains shut down through the debt ceiling, and the government defaults on some debt, 5. A long-term deal that solves larger fiscal problems.
The New York Times: “House Republicans are likely to try again on Wednesday to pass three piecemeal spending bills that would reopen parts of the government, as both parties try to force the other to crack under mounting public pressure to end the two-day-old shutdown.” The Times calls them “embarrassing losses.”
More: “Aides to the Republican leadership said the bills would be introduced on Wednesday under ordinary rules that require only simple majorities, and they should easily pass. But Democrats are likely to be granted procedural votes of their own, which would be an opportunity to test how many Republicans would defy their leadership and vote to reopen the entire government without crippling President Obama’s health care law … As public anger grows, more Republicans are coming forward to call for such a rebellion.”
Politico: “A harsh reality began setting into Capitol Hill on Tuesday: The U.S. government may not reopen until the two parties reach a deal to raise the national debt ceiling.”
Roll Call: Reid and Boehner “have never been especially close, but their normally functional relationship began to unravel this week, after the House GOP decided to try to undermine a secret deal the two leaders’ offices made over the summer to save congressional staffers from losing their health care benefits.”
Washington Post: "The fiscal showdowns of the past three years have all followed a familiar script: chapter and verse leading to a messy but predictable end....Not this time. A different set of political dynamics has upended the old playbook, and a resolution to this fiscal crisis seems especially remote. Obama, Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) remain far apart, having occasional phone calls but no substantive negotiations."
New York Times: "In contrast to 1995, when Speaker Newt Gingrich led his band of “revolutionary” Republicans into the last battle that shuttered the federal government, this time a small but powerful group of outspoken conservative hard-liners is leading its leaders — and increasingly angering a widening group of fellow Republicans."
Los Angeles Times: "On Tuesday, as the shutdown took hold and more Republicans questioned their party's strategy, the gaps on the GOP side were clearly widening. But the party's less conservative members have shown little willingness in the past to fight the right wing. Whether they will now could determine how long the shutdown lasts."
National Journal: "Whether Reid can hold Democrats together as the shutdown drags on—there is no sign that it will end in coming days—remains unclear. But House Republicans have already scaled back their offers, going from a full repeal of Obamacare, to a full delay, to a delay of a piece of the program. Reid, backed by his caucus and President Obama, has remained steady in his insistence that House Republicans adopt the continuing resolution the Senate passed on Friday."
The Wall Street Journal editorial board weighs in: "Our advice is to give up on the impossible task of defunding or delaying ObamaCare at the current moment and focus instead on a quick if smaller policy victory. The House has already voted for three specific policies that might be achievable if they became the GOP's main political focus....We support the Republican effort to get the best deal they can, especially in the face of Mr. Obama's cynicism. But sooner or later the GOP will have to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling that expires two weeks from now. Republicans will have made their point about fighting hard on principle while noting that to achieve more on ObamaCare they'll need more Senate Republicans after 2014 and a GOP President after 2016. Unlike much of what you hear these days out of Washington, this has the added advantage of being true."