There does not appear to be an end in sight for this government shutdown.
Democrats have shown no signs of capitulating to Republican demands on the health-care law, as people begin signing up for it today. And Republicans have shown no signs of budging. In fact, they seem emboldened.
“Our conference has never been more united," a House GOP leadership aide told First Read. "They have been in the fight, and now they want to win it.”
The problem is, it's not at all clear what the end game is. House Republicans claim it is Democrats who are not compromising and see no need to back down, despite polls showing Americans would blame them more for a shutdown and disagree with the tactic of shutting down the government to try and delay the health-care law.
“We feel as though we have a very reasonable position,” the aide said, arguing that it’s the Senate and President Barack Obama, who are “not willing to negotiate on common ground.”
Obama has been adamant that he will not negotiate on the health-care law over a temporary funding measure, reiterating that position today. He called it a "Republican shutdown" for "an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans."
There has been no splintering among Democrats on that position, except for Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia saying last week he would be in favor of a one-year delay of the health-care law. But it seems that ship has sailed with enrollment beginning today and people already signing up.
In a last-ditch maneuver last night, about an hour before shutdown, House Speaker John Boehner and the House GOP called for going to conference to negotiate with Senate Democrats on just a temporary funding measure.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Democrats rejected that, noting that they have been calling to go to conference for six months, since they passed a budget in March during the last debt-ceiling fight -- and after Republicans had been hammering them for not passing one for four years.
The three funding measures Republicans in the House are set to move on this evening should be another sign that this shutdown could go on a while. All three items -- funding the Veterans Administration to deal with the backlog of veterans' claims, funding for the National Parks, and the DC city government to pay for police -- are politically palatable items.
In other words, all three are things that are popular and could cause a significant backlash as the days wear on. But by funding these popular items and creating a pick-and-choose partial shutdown, that would mitigate some of the outrage.
It would leave the government partially shuttered and the GOP standing by its anti-health-care law principles.
Of course, as noted above, people without insurance are already getting it as a result of the law. And the more people sign up, the trickier it becomes for Republicans to stand in the way of the law -- despite the well-chronicled "glitches."
First published October 1 2013, 1:13 PM