Congress Looks Resigned to a Shutdown

The Republican “compromise” offers little space for negotiation, and Dick Durbin thinks a shutdown is coming.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas leave the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. 
National Journal
Matt Berman
Sept. 29, 2013, 7:55 a.m.

Do you think the gov­ern­ment is go­ing to shut down? That’s what CBS’s Bob Schief­fer asked Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill, on Face the Na­tion Sunday morn­ing. “I’m afraid I do,” he said.

Right now, with a day and change left be­fore the gov­ern­ment shuts down if Con­gress can’t agree on how to fund it, Durbin’s pre­dic­tion is look­ing pretty sage.

If for no oth­er reas­on, that’s be­cause with so little time left, the frame of the de­bate is still far from a po­s­i­tion that could yield a real ne­go­ti­ation. On Sunday, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., took up a line on the budget fight that seems to prime the gov­ern­ment for a shut­down. “It’s not a good idea to give the pres­id­ent 100 per­cent of what he wants on Obama­care without com­prom­ise,” Paul said on Face the Na­tion. “We’ve been of­fer­ing him com­prom­ises.” On Meet the Press, Ted Cruz said much the same thing: 

We shouldn’t have a shut­down, which means that Harry Re­id needs to move off his ab­so­lut­ist po­s­i­tion. His po­s­i­tion, you’ve seen mul­tiple com­prom­ises from the Re­pub­lic­ans and you’ve seen zero, I mean, can you tell me any move­ment the Demo­crats have had what­so­ever?

The “com­prom­ise” that Re­pub­lic­ans are cur­rently of­fer­ing is high­lighted by a one-year delay of Obama­care. The com­prom­ise is that this ac­tion would be kinder to Sen­ate Demo­crats and Pres­id­ent Obama than de­fund­ing or re­peal­ing the health care law al­to­geth­er. It’s also a po­s­i­tion that is far to the right of what most Sen­ate Demo­crats and Obama would con­sider ne­go­ti­at­ing over.

The “com­prom­ise” line ap­pears to be the frame of choice for Re­pub­lic­ans right now. “To­night, we of­fer the Demo­crat­ic minor­ity a com­prom­ise,” Rep. John Cul­ber­son, R-Texas, said on the House floor be­fore Sunday morn­ing’s vote. Rep. Dana Rohra­bach­er, R-Cal­if., sug­ges­ted on the floor that Demo­crats were crazy not to ac­cept the one-year-delay com­prom­ise. Delay­ing Obama­care, Rand Paul said Sunday morn­ing, is a “new com­prom­ise.”

Or, as Cruz more fully put it on Meet the Press:

It is the Demo­crats who have taken the ab­so­lut­ist po­s­i­tion. Look, I’d like to re­peal every word of the law. But that wasn’t my po­s­i­tion in this fight. My po­s­i­tion in this fight was we should de­fund it, which is dif­fer­ent from re­peal. And even now what the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives has done is a step re­moved from de­fund­ing. It’s delay­ing. Now that’s the es­sence of a com­prom­ise. For all of us who want to see it re­pealed, simply delay­ing it for Amer­ic­an fam­il­ies on the same terms as be­ing done for big cor­por­a­tions — that’s a com­prom­ise.

At the same time, Dav­id, what have the Demo­crats com­prom­ised on? Noth­ing. Zero. Their po­s­i­tion is ab­so­lutely no. How is that com­prom­ise?

Since his mara­thon speech earli­er this week, Cruz has taken a sur­pris­ingly lead­ing role among House Re­pub­lic­ans, in­clud­ing lead­ing meet­ings to push con­ser­vat­ives to hold strong against passing a con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion that leaves Obama­care un­touched. Right now, that’s the po­s­i­tion that seems to be dom­in­at­ing. House Ma­jor­ity Whip Kev­in Mc­Carthy, R-Cal­if., sug­ges­ted on Fox News Sunday that if the Sen­ate kills the latest House CR (which it will likely do by Monday af­ter­noon), then the House Re­pub­lic­ans still won’t plan to move much off their Obama­care com­prom­ise, and con­tin­ue to in­sist on “fun­da­ment­al changes” to the law.

Un­less Sunday morn­ing’s talk was just pos­tur­ing, or bar­ring some kind of rad­ic­al shift in ne­go­ti­at­ing strategy, the terms of a com­prom­ise to keep the gov­ern­ment open are at this point very un­likely to yield room for bi­par­tis­an ne­go­ti­ation. So if Dick Durbin is a bet­ting man, he may want to put his money where his mouth is.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4475) }}

What We're Following See More »
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Sanders Looks to Right the Ship in Indiana
14 hours ago
THE LATEST

Hillary Clinton may have the Democratic nomination sewn up, but Bernie Sanders apparently isn't buying it. Buoyed by a poll showing them in a "virtual tie," Sanders is "holding three rallies on the final day before the state primary and hoping to pull off a win after a tough week of election losses and campaign layoffs." 

Source:
‘SPOOKED’ IN NORTH DAKOTA
Cruz Delegates Having Second Thoughts?
18 hours ago
THE LATEST

As unbound delegates pledged to Ted Cruz watch him "struggle to tread water in a primary increasingly dominated by Trump, many of them, wary of a bitter convention battle that could rend the party at its seams, are rethinking their commitment to the Texas senator."

Source:
MORE PRESSURE ON CONGRESS TO ACT
Puerto Rico to Default on Payment Today
18 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The confrontation between debt-swamped Puerto Rico and its creditors is intensifying as the U.S. territory will default on payments due Monday, deepening the island's financial crisis and placing additional pressure on Congress to intervene." The amount of the default is estimated at $422 million.

Source:
A RARE KIND OF REBUKE
Leading Republicans Would Say ‘No Thanks’ If Asked to Be Trump’s VP
21 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Nikki Haley. Jeb Bush. Scott Walker. Lindsey Graham. John Kasich. The list is growing ever longer of Republicans who say they wouldn't even consider becoming Donald Trump's running mate. "The recoiling amounts to a rare rebuke for a front-runner: Politicians usually signal that they are not interested politely through back channels, or submit to the selection process, if only to burnish their national profiles."

Source:
NEW WSJ/NBC/MARIST POLL
Trump Decisively Ahead in Indiana
21 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump holds a 15-point lead over Ted Cruz in the potentially decisive May 3 presidential primary race in Indiana, according to results from a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll. Trump gets support from 49 percent of likely Republican primary voters — followed by Cruz at 34 percent and John Kasich at 13 percent. If that margin in Indiana holds on Tuesday, Trump would be on a glide path towards obtaining the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination on a first ballot at the GOP convention in July."

Source:
×