After House Republicans left the White House Saturday morning distraught by the President's unwillingness to negotiate, the Senate has once again taken the lead in trying to end the government shutdown that is now finishing its second week. A breakthrough deal however, with the looming debt limit deadline on Thursday, remains far off.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid met with Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday, in an attempt to fashion another spending bill that would reopen the government and avoid global economic turmoil, if the U.S. were not to raise its debt ceiling. Any bill coming out of the Senate however, still stands a narrow chance of passing the House, as congressional Republicans refuse to pass any spending bill without cuts to the Affordable Care Act. Basically, negotiations are exactly where they were two weeks ago. And that doesn't bode well for the Thursday debt ceiling deadline.
Less radical House Republicans, frustrated with the zealous Tea Party antics that led to the the shutdown, have continued to speak out (carefully) about the state of negotiations.
“The problem here is that we don’t have a functioning majority,” Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California told the New York Times. “After three weeks of this, they’re still not figuring it out. I don’t know what it takes.”
Weary lawmakers, now stuck at this same impasse with virtually no progress since the beginning of October, have begun to let their tempers flare. A small confrontation on the House floor yesterday occurred when a staffer for Eric Cantor piped in during an attempt by Democrats to bring a spending bill to the floor of the house (all attempts were denied by the Republican majority). That's when the Cantor staffer took matters into his own hands and pulled the bill himself.
“He had come to our side, was yelling across the aisles that they were shutting down the debate and pulling the bill,” New York City Representative Joseph Crowley told reporters. “And I had said to him then that a staffer was shutting down democracy, and he said, ‘That’s right.’”
Reports have Crowley poking the staffer, although both sides have since apologized.
With Congressional Republicans locked into their government deathwish strategy of demanding the dismantlement of the Affordable Care Act, and Senate Republicans and Democrats working on what would appear to be a useless bill, the United States is running perilously close to a default. And while rational minds will declare that will never happen... it seems like the majority of elected officials are still getting their heads around trying to negotiate with a powerful faction that has not budged since shuttering the Federal government. Never seems a bit more possible.