Between the Tea Party affiliated (and Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz inclusive) protest in front of the White House yesterday and the various online efforts to label this as “Obama’s shutdown”, it’s understandable that people may begin (or have already begun) to be somewhat confused about who precisely is causing the current shutdown. Let’s make it clear – it’s the Republicans. They created this shutdown. They urged this shutdown. They’re maintaining this shutdown.
(The barricades from the WWII Memorial, which protesters removed and then proceeded to throw at the fence surrounding the White House, from here.)
We could start that discussion with how it was a group of House Republicans in addition to Senator Ted Cruz who popularized in their political circles the idea of refusing to fund the government for the (then-coming, now-here) fiscal year, but that’s been known and that should be known. What’s less commonly recognized however, is that Republicans not only took that course of action, but in the process of that metaphorically locked the door behind them so that it’s near impossible for Democrats to resolve this issue by an up-or-down vote on the House floor. Instead, any such measure has to be brought forward by either House Majority Leader Eric Cantor or a designee of his choice, as per a rule resolution (specifically applied to this legislation, and some argue, in violation of House rules) passed right after the government shutdown.
That’s, unfortunately, a risky proposition since Cantor has in his nearly thirteen years in the Senate only sponsored 76 bills – just over five year. The last time he introduced a bill was April 9, 2013 – a date after which almost every other sitting member of the House has proposed at least one if not several prospective bills. Obviously, this renders the Democrats negotiations with comparatively moderate Republicans moot, since they could sway any number of representatives and fail to bring any bill to the floor without Cantor’s approval.
Ironically enough, the math suggests that several Republican House members voted in favor of giving away their ability to bring forward a modified budget before swinging in favor of Democratic proposals. The rule resolution passed with only nine Republicans voting against it and one failing to vote, meaning that at best ten Republicans now regret their vote (assuming that Nancy Pelosi’s claims of small but significant Republican support aren’t exaggerated).
Perhaps instead of throwing barricades at the White House in anger at President Obama, Republicans who want the WWII Memorial reopened should take up their quarrel with Eric Cantor, on whom this entire shutdown hinges?