The Federal Government Shuts Down, Compliments of the Tea Party

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Ted Cruz’s filibuster worked – the government is shutting down. And the Senate Democrats are pissed.

Boehner is facing pressure from the establishment Republicans, but most of the heat directed at him is coming from Democrats in the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid has been urging Boehner to abandon the fight to defund, warning that if he didn’t “the responsibility for this Republican government shutdown will rest squarely on his shoulders.” But Boehner isn’t budging. As Peter Grier writes for Christian Science Monitor:

“The question is how far House Speaker John Boehner will go in adhering to tea party preferences. To this point, he has shown willingness to back down in the face of opposition from his conservative wing. He would have preferred a clean funding bill to keep the government open, but instead has brought to the House floor versions of the bill that would defund or delay Obamacare, ensuring their doom in the Senate.”

It is this uncompromising behavior from the House that has the Democrats in the Senate so perturbed. Bob Mendez stood on the Senate floor professing the actions of the House to be the “ultimate extortion,” and predicting that the forced shut down of the government will bring unnecessary negative implications for the country. Chuck Schumer shamed the GOP, calling its move a “subterfuge” and a “little scheme,” and Harry Reid closed his remarks with:

“It is embarrassing that the people elected to represent this country are choosing to represent the Tea Party and anarchists…they are fixated on embarrassing our president – the president of the United States.”

But the shutdown has very little to do with Obama, beyond defunding the great “achievement” of his presidency. The Senate would do well to spend less time feeling attacked and instead consider what this means in regards to the future power of the minority party in the congressional process—not just the minority party, mind you, but a minority within the minority.

The constitutional conservatives are fewer in number than the establishment Republicans, but they have been calling the shots throughout the duration of the impending (and now happening) government shutdown that started with Ted Cruz’s filibuster.

So what does this mean for minority parties of the future? I think that largely depends on what happens next. Both sides of the aisle are steadfast in their refusal to compromise on the funding or defunding of the Affordable Care Act, and no progress can be made until one side makes the first move toward the middle.

With the Senate voting to reject yet another attempt by the House to modify an emergency funding Bill, it doesn’t seem like there is a resolution on the horizon.