Worried that Republicans would get most of the “blame” from a government shutdown, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is quietly gauging support for a one-week stopgap spending measure that would buy Congress more time for talks. With Democrats and President Obama refusing to negotiate, however, it isn’t exactly clear what McConnell’s delay would buy.
The most optimistic take on McConnell’s move is that it is political theatre designed to show that Republicans did all they could to avert a shutdown.
“Despite the Democrats’ refusal to work with the House to solve the problem, Republicans are working to protect the troops, prevent a shutdown and find solutions to the difficulties caused by Senate Democrats’ delays,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said.
Congress is at this juncture not simply because of delays by Senate Democrats, but by their steadfast refusal to negotiate or consider any compromise solution. House Republicans are operating in a negotiating vacuum, proposing changes to ObamaCare, uncertain of what, if anything, might be acceptable to Senate Democrats.
Harry Reid and Senate Democrats have made the path to negotiations a one-way street. One could argue that McConnell and his leadership team have abetted this, but that is better left for another day.
Republican leaders like McConnell are consumed with DC folklore that Republicans “paid a price” for the government shutdown in 1996. If expanding its Senate majority is “paying the price,” Senate Republicans should be eager to settle that tab all day long.