One of the central features of the current impasse over a government shutdown is the fact that it has been John Boeher’s refusal to let a “clean CR” come up for a vote that has stymied the situation in Congress. If such a CR with no Obamacare attachments were put to a vote in the House, so the reasoning went, it would pass.  This has added fuel to the Dem claim that if Boehner would just let the matter come up for a vote — it would pass — hence why not let it come up for a vote?   It’s been a good messaging point for the Dems.

Yesterday it started becoming clear that whatever public opinion advantage the Dems had at the outset of this debacle, the emerging reality is that Repub negatives are starting to recede, while democratic negatives and the President’s negatives are growing.  Thus the trend, at least, is toward more political damage being inflicted on the Dems, and less on the Repubs.

That was yesterday

Today comes the news from David Friedlander that the centrist  Repubs in the House who previously signaled they would sign a clean CR are starting to lose members from their ranks.  Yesterday there were 17 Repubs in this camp — precisely the number needed, in addition to the Dem house contingent, to pass  a clean CR.

Well, that number is shrinking.

Repubs who previously signaled their intent to back such a measure but who backed off in the last 24 hours and are no longer willing to do so include Randy Forbes of Virginia, Leonard lnace of New Jersey, Devin Nunes of California, Chris Collins of New York, and Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania.   That is more than enough defections to sink the “clean CR” ship.

Congressman Peter King (R-NY), who has been an oustpoken proponent of a clean CR remains on board, but his comment today:  “I have no idea where this is going.”

This doesn’t mean that if a clean CR comes to the floor of the House for a vote it won’t pass.  There is obviously a high degree of volatility in many of the votes — and if/when the moment of truth comes, there may be defections in both directions.   So the defections noted above are not precisely a death knoll for the prospects of a clean CR.  But there is no way this is good news.

“There is no real strategy that anyone has,” Kng said. “I have always strongly felt that if it came to a vote in the House floor, that a clean CR would pass…If the speaker put it up on the floor I still feel confident it would pass. I can’t figure out a lot of Republicans who privately say how much they are opposed to all of this, how we have to get out of it and then when the time comes they lose their nerve.”

There is also the President’s initiative wherein he has said he will negotiate–but only if the shutdown is ended.  Although there is an attempt to portray this as “holding firm” — it’s really not.  It’s saying that the President will reward the Republicans with serious negotiations on their issues if they will, in effect, release the hostage.  The release of the hostage could come in the form of a three week “clean CR” that really isn’t clean – since it comes with the President’s commitment to negotiate, a commitment which, if he doesn’t satisfy the Repubs in those negotiations, leave open the possibility of yet another shutdown when the three week CR ends.   If where this whole thing started is a form of extortion, then that is extortion once removed.

The bottom line: However wrong-minded the Republican move may seem to be to those who view it as undemocratic and against the traditions of the Congress and intentions of the founders — it appears likely it will end up working in some fashion. The  Democratic “we won’t negotiate” position is beginning to erode and is not sustainable.

What remains is to figure out how to put as many fig leaves in place as are necessary to allow both sides to claim they didn’t give in, but as of this morning, it seems more and more clear that the Dems are the ones who are in the process of blinking.   There is still plenty of room for more twists and turns that could change this …. but for now that’s where it stands.  Repubs are about to be rewarded for doing this.



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