The government shutdown is about to enter its third week. With Thursday's debt limit deadline looming, a breakthrough deal remains far off.
The Senate has once again taken the lead in trying to end the shutdown. A bipartisan proposal by Maine's centrist Republican Sen. Susan Collins would raise the debt ceiling through January and fund the government for six months, and include White House concessions to delay a tax on medical devices used to fund ObamaCare. Democrats, though, want to extend the debt ceiling for a longer period of time and pass a shorter-term spending bill.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly threw his support behind the proposal Sunday and he and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid have been meeting through the weekend to discuss the matter.
Any bill coming out of the Senate however, still stands only a narrow chance of passing the House, as congressional Republicans refuse to pass any spending bill without cuts to the Affordable Care Act.
So why don't the Democrats in the House just force a vote on the spending bill already passed by the Senate? Because House Republicans enacted a special rule that prevents Democrats from doing so.
Normal House rules provide that "[w]hen the stage of disagreement has been reached on a bill or resolution with House or Senate amendments, a motion to dispose of any amendment shall be privileged" --a provision that House Democrats believe would have enabled any member of the House to force a vote on a bill to fund the government that had already passed the Senate. But the Republican caucus eliminated that option by enacting a special rule that prevents anyone but the majority leader or his designee from introducing a bill to fund the government. It thus prevents any vote from taking place.
The House enacted this rule change on Oct 01, less than two hours before the government shutdown.
Thus, with a shutdown looming, the power to allow a vote that could've prevented the government shutdown was left in Majority Leader Eric Cantor's hands. Cantor, of course, chose not to exercise that power.
Removing any legitimate argument that this shutdown was caused by the Democrats (as if there ever was a legitimate argument that this shutdown was the Democrats' fault).
This only makes that "acting like children" analogy more applicable. They didn't like the possibility that they might lose the game so they changed the rules.
It's another reason GOP senators are increasingly unhappy with their House counterparts. One unnamed Republican senator asked "What planet are they on?"
To quote Batman: "They know. They just doesn't care."