You can’t govern with if a sizeable chunk of the members of your caucus want to destroy the government from within, are totally unqualified for their jobs, and are more interested in being right-wing media figures than doing the work.
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With hours to go before the House GOP is shutting down the government, everybody seems to be asking the wrong question. At this point, it’s not about whether this is going to happen but rather about how long the shutdown will last.
Because it’s not as though House Republicans have a plan… or a desire to prevent millions of regular Americans from feeling the pain of such a shutdown. And some of them might even be willing to keep the government shut down as long as that means impeding the criminal investigations of Donald Trump in some way (which it probably won’t).
Usually in these circumstances, there is a plan of action or at least an overall strategic objective. But in the case of these Republicans, it’s more like sending a dozen toddlers into a grocery store on their own and asking them to buy nutritional food: It’ll be mayhem, and there is no way that the outcome will be productive.
Their current “plan,” for lack of a better word, is to vote for some kind of funding bill that has no chance of passing the Senate and would never get signed into law. Such a measure would be full of goodies for the GOP base, like “shutting down the border,” “defunding Jack Smith,” “sending weapons to Russia,” and “the death penalty for women who have an abortion” (we made a couple of those up, but you get the drift).
And even those, apart from that border thing, which is a good issue for Republicans, probably wouldn’t get enough votes to pass.
Making things even more difficult is that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is fighting for his job. If he “caves,” i.e., keeps the promises he made when Congress and the White House hammered out their debt ceiling agreement earlier this year, then the right-wing of his caucus will try to get him bounced.
All that being said, a bipartisan deal to avert a shutdown could get passed in the House at any time… at least in theory.
For that to happen, Democrats would have to bail out McCarthy and pass a continuing resolution or a large government funding bill with whatever sensible Republicans are left in the House.
Politically, they shouldn’t do it.
In the past, there may have been some debate over who is responsible for a shutdown or how much blame each party shoulders, but this time around, it is very clear that it is solely the fault of House Republicans. This is something we predicted since the start of the year: You can’t govern with a 5-seat majority if a sizeable chunk of the members of your caucus have no interest in governing, want to destroy the government from within, are totally unqualified for their jobs, and are more interested in being right-wing media figures than doing the work.
If the American people began to feel the effects of a shutdown — when the armed forces stop getting paid, parks close, and assistance no longer gets to those in need (or arrives much more slowly) — it would be good politically for Democrats.
However, that would not be the decent thing to allow, which means that they will ultimately bail out their GOP colleagues, maybe after a few days just to make a point and get voters upset at Republicans.
If that doesn’t happen, then there is no telling how long the shutdown will last because, on its own, the House GOP is incapable of passing a stopgap or long-term funding measure that could be signed into law.
If it does happen, then the next act in this circus will be the attempts to remove McCarthy as Speaker… and that will be fun to watch.