With just about two days to go before the government runs out of funding, Republicans, Democrats and the White House already have their collective fingers aimed and ready to blame someone other than themselves for potentially the first shutdown since 2013.
Republicans on Wednesday night were scrambling to secure enough votes to get a continued resolution passed that will keep the government open, averting the first federal shutdown since 2013 — but if their efforts proved unsuccessful, many GOPers planned to blame their colleagues across the aisle.
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) held a press conference Wednesday night, calling out Democrats for not being willing to come to the table and bang out a stopgap funding bill, which in one form would reauthorize six more years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
“By voting against this continuing resolution, not only are they voting to shut down the government, they are voting to deny children access to critical health care when they need it,” McMorris Rodgers said.
“What’s their argument? We need to shut down the government and not fund children’s health insurance?” asked Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, referring to Democrats’ unwillingness to commit to voting for a continuing resolution.
But on the left, Democrats say a government shutdown would surely fall at the feet of Republicans, the political party with both the legislative and executive power in Washington.
“If, God forbid, there’s a shutdown, it will fall on the majority leader’s shoulders and the president’s shoulders,” Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday morning on the Senate floor.
Some Democrats even appear to be leveraging the impending shutdown to secure a fix for the thousands of “Dreamers” left in limbo after President Donald Trump moved to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, arguing, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) did this week, that he “will not be voting for any [short-term extension] that does not provide legal status to the ‘Dreamers’ and a path toward citizenship.”
The White House has jumped at this line of negotiating by some Democrats to argue that the left would, in fact, be to blame if funding runs out by Friday.
“The Democrats want to shut down the government over amnesty for all and border security,” Trump tweeted Tuesday:
The Democrats want to shut down the Government over Amnesty for all and Border Security. The biggest loser will be our rapidly rebuilding Military, at a time we need it more than ever. We need a merit based system of immigration, and we need it now! No more dangerous Lottery.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2018
“The biggest loser will be our rapidly rebuilding military, at a time we need it more than ever. We need a merit-based system of immigration, and we need it now! No more dangerous lottery,” Trump added.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed the president’s thinking during Wednesday’s press briefing, arguing that if a deal isn’t reached this week, Americans “only have one place to look, and that’s to the Democrats.”
Sanders also slammed Democrats for toying with the U.S. military’s budget by “trying to push through other policies that have nothing to do with the budget.”
But according to a new Hart Research Associates poll, which was commissioned by far-left organization MoveOn.org, most Americans (42 percent) would blame the president and congressional Republicans for a government shutdown.
Thirty-one percent would peg Democrats.
Ultimately, some members of Congress are confident a deal will be made ahead of Friday’s deadline. House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) told Independent Journal Review he expects a deal will be made, and he would “certainly” vote for a clean continuing resolution as long as House leadership agrees “to give us a vote” on a conservative immigration bill “at some point.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also offered a more optimistic view of the approaching shutdown Monday, stating: “I don’t think there will be [a shutdown] because I think we’re making progress on what we call the caps deal.”