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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems Should Make Sure GOP Owns Shutdown

If there is going to be a government shutdown, Republicans are going to own it, despite their best efforts to blame Democrats. The GOP controls all three branches of government, which makes any attempt to evade responsibility for a shutdown a very tough sell. As conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin recently explained,

“The Republican gambit to blame Democrats — who control neither the House, Senate nor White House — for failure to keep the government running was always a long shot. They are, as they keep reminding us, in charge and have the majorities to keep the government funded. Nevertheless, they’ve tried to convince dubious voters that Democrats are creating a shutdown because of that party’s desire to protect “dreamers” under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. That’s daft since, once again, a majority of Republicans are available to vote for a spending bill with no DACA fix…What is apparent for all to see is that Democrats have no responsibility to concoct a solution to address the Republicans’ abject incompetence. When a majority party cannot decide what it wants, and cannot find the votes, they are admitting they cannot govern. There is a solution to that: putting the other party in charge.”

Democrats should keep repeating the point that “Republicans control all three branches of government. Any government shutdown has to be their fault.” If Dems do a decent job of getting that message across, the Republicans will blink, or add ‘whiny excuse-makers’ to their image problems. Dems shouldn’t worry too much about lapdog reporters who won’t call the GOP out about why they can’t manage our goverment, when they control all three branches. Just trust in the logic of the argument, that the majority party has to own any shutdown.

Ashley Killough’s  round-up, “Government shutdown: Where the senators stand,” updates positions of Democratic senators on the short-term spending bill, which will need 60 votes to move forward. “It’s a difficult task for Republicans, who only number 51 in the Senate — and not all of them are going to vote for the bill,” writes Killough. “Even if they did, they’d still need another nine Democrats to reach the magic number of 60.” Here’s Killough’s breakdown of “Republican “no” votes and where Democrats stand.”


Sen. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) — “I’m not going to vote for a CR” (Wednesday, to reporters)
Sen. Joe Manchin (West Virginia) — “I want to keep the government open. I’m just going to work and work and work to keep the government open.” (Wednesday to reporters)


Sen. Michel Bennet (Colorado) — “I’m very, very unlikely to support that.” (Thursday, to reporters)
Sen. Tom Carper (Delaware) — “To set the record straight, I’m leaning NO on the CR. I want a comprehensive deal. I’m really frustrated by what’s coming out of the White House — in part the behavior of the president, but also just the unwillingness to negotiate in good faith.” (Tweet on Wednesday)
Sen. Chris Murphy (Connecticut) –– “Yet another CR, kicking the can down the road, hanging the military and millions of Americans out to dry, is an abdication of our responsibility to govern like adults.” (Thursday on Twitter)
Sen. Chuck Schumer (New York) — “Letting this ambivalence and chaos continue for another month is just not the answer. It’s not a good way to get a deal, and it’s not the right way to run our country, our dear, beloved country.” (Thursday on the Senate floor)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island) — “Everything Democrats want is bipartisan; why not work with us? Ultimatum after ultimatum from Rs, and not one vote yet in regular legislative order on any Democratic amendment on any bill” (Thursday on Twitter)
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5 comments on “Dems Should Make Sure GOP Owns Shutdown

  1. Candace on

    from Schumer:


    “The House of Representatives has sent the Senate a continuing resolution constructed by the Republican Speaker and passed without the consultation of House Democrats or Senate Democrats whatsoever.

    The Republican Leader is now saying to us: take it or leave it.

    Here’s why members from both sides of the aisle want to leave it.

    We have been skating by on continuing resolution after continuing resolution for almost six months. First, we passed a 3-month CR, then a 2-week CR, then a one-month CR. Now we are offered another month-long delay of the inevitable. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road and shuffling our feet after it. In another month, we’ll be right back here, at this moment, with the same web of problems at our feet, in no better position to solve them. ”

    So not only was the government being ran week to week, month to month but this CR was constructed by Paul Ryan and passed without consulting House or Senate Democrats. How often does that happen?
    And in addition to that the government had to be shutdown just to get McConnell commit to an “intention to bring an immigration bill to the floor if a deal can’t be struck before then.” All the while knowing what Democrats want support majority of American opinion and Miller and Kelly’s do not. Is there something I’m missing because that seems pretty outrageous. And who could work in that environment being treated that way.

    I have a very difficult time believing that Republicans cant get on the same page. The preference for CR’s looks like deliberate stalling.
    Perhaps its election year and they know how unpopular everything they want actually is. If they avoid committing to anything they can’t take responsibility for anything and then of course blame Democrat politicians and anyone who would vote for them for the results.

    Or it could be no one is allowed to do their job because Republicans are busy shutting down the government in their own way, on their own schedule which seriously, I often worry it currently has to do with an upcoming military escalation. (amongst much else Pence’s Middle East tour is not encouraging)

  2. eire on

    Republicans do not control all 3 branches of gkvernment. Republicans control the executive (POTUS) and legislative (House and Senate).

    I am tired of reading and hearing talking heads forget the end branches of government.

  3. Jack Olson on

    If it takes sixty votes in the Senate to get a budget passed but the Republicans have only fifty-one, then they do not really control the Senate. The people who really control the Senate are any ten Democratic Senators who can force a government shutdown by withholding their votes. The solution is either to give one party a sixty-vote majority or to abolish the sixty-vote requirement. Since Senator Reid abolished the sixty-vote requirement to confirm federal judges, the Republicans confirmed judges the Democrats did not like. Pretty soon, they will abolish the sixty-vote requirement to pass a budget, too. I can’t say whether that will be good or bad for the country but at least it will spare us this partisan game of chicken with the budget and the finger-pointing it entails.

    • GeoShea on

      Fussy procedural nuances don’t get it. This is a Republican shut down. They own it. McConnell could strike a reasonable compromise most Americans could live with — if he was an effective leader. As it is, he is a pretty weak majority leader, more of an inept ideologue than a bridge-builder. Republicans haven’t had a bridge-builder for majority leader since Howard Baker.

  4. Victor on

    For Democrats this is one of several possible wrong issues over which to look the other way while government shuts down.

    If you are going to create drama, it should be over something that affects everyone.


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