It’s become a common House Republican talking point that Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama could end the shutdown of the government if they simply chose to negotiate.
“What we are looking at here again is an administration and president
that seems to be unwilling to sit down and talk to us,” House Majority
Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) bemoaned at a press conference on Saturday
While Cantor is right that Democrats aren't exactly in the talking
mood, the suggestion that they aren’t willing to negotiate ignores that
they’ve already given Republicans a major win. The continuing resolution
that the White House and congressional Democrats have agreed to funds
the government at sequestration levels. And even some members of
Cantor's own caucus admit that they got the good end of that deal.
“It is a concession, I acknowledge that,” Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.)
told The Huffington Post on Saturday. “I was glad to see that lower
number. It didn’t take defense spending into account. We still have a
big discrepancy between the House and Senate version. But there has been
some compromise and I acknowledge that.”
(Lamborn, for what it's worth, is no centrist. He signed on to a letter saying a government shutdown was preferable to the implementation of Obamacare.)
So what have Democrats received in return for that compromise? If you ask many of them, they’d say
"not a whole lot." Progressives complained bitterly that funding the
government at $988 billion would set a bad precedent for future
negotiations. Administration officials acknowledge that it would hurt
the president’s priorities. But they and the party's congressional
leadership made the case that a continuing resolution at that level
would be tolerable provided it lasted for a short period of time and
allowed for more substantial budget negotiations.