The government shutdown won’t end anytime soon and there is no prospect of House Republicans yielding on their demands to delay the implementation of Obamacare in exchange for funding the federal government.
Although Speaker John Boehner claimed in a morning interview on ABC’s The Week that there weren’t enough votes in the House to pass “a clean CR, “which simply continue to fund government at sequestration levels; whip counts based on public statements from Congressmen disagree. At last count, there are over 20 House Republicans who have said that they would vote for “a clean CR,” if it was brought to the floor. They are mostly moderate and largely veterans of Capitol Hill. In fact, in this list, compiled by Huffington Post, all but two are from states that Barack Obama won in 2012. However, while they would vote such a CR, they won’t lift a finger to bring such a bill to the floor of the House and support any of the necessary procedural moves to do so.
The latest maneuver by the Democrats is something called a discharge petition. If a majority of the House sign a letter demanding that a bill be brought to the floor, it gets voted on. For a variety of reasons, both procedural and tactical, the bill that Democrats are demanding be discharged is one sponsored by Rep. James Lankford (R-OK), a member of the House Leadership. Of the 200 Democratic congressman, 195 have signed on. Zero Republicans have. Rep Bill Young (R-FL), one of the 20 plus in favor of clean CR, told The Daily Beast that he was “not going to sign a discharge petition, I’ll vote based on what comes to floor.” In other words, he’s for it---but only if John Boehner says it’s ok to vote for it.
The problem for House Republicans is that they have backed themselves into a corner. It seems President Barack Obama won’t yield on delaying (and wounding) the signature accomplishment of his administration---which happens to be called Obamacare. It’s now about winning, or the appearance of winning, as conservative Indiana Republican Marlin Stutzman told the Washington Examiner last week ““We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.” The attitude is that now that they’ve gone to war, they have to fight to the death regardless.
This is even shared by those like Rep Devin Nunes (R-CA) who has long advocated for a clean CR. Nunes shares the view of most Republicans that now the fight has begun, they have to stick together, regardless of the consequences. He told The Daily Beast last week “Most of us are pretty much convinced, now that we’ve entered of valley of death we should probably stay and run together.”
The valley of death is a phrase made famous in Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade, a poem about a British cavalry brigade that, because of command errors, launched a futile and bloody charge during the Crimean War.