Why would House Republicans pass a symbolic measure so late in the game? Democratic aides believe it may be the only thing that can get through at the moment. The defund provision buys Boehner breathing room with conservatives, passes the buck to firebrand Senators who have irked GOP leaders by touting an unachievable goal, and, perhaps, forces the Senate to share the blame in the event of a shutdown.
Suderman expects that a shutdown would damage the GOP:
Now, there’s an argument to be made that a government shutdown wouldn’t be so bad. But here’s the thing: A government shutdown wouldn’t stop the implementation of Obamacare, according to the Congressional Research Service. Funding for the implementation process would continue. What a shutdown almost certainly would do is put a lot of public pressure on Republicans to give up and let Democrats take a win—as happened in the 1990s. (The polls on this are pretty clear: The public doesn’t like Obamacare, but they like government shutdowns even less.) And if and when that happens, Republicans stand to lose gains they’ve made on federal spending through the sequestration as well.
Drum predicts what will happen if the government shuts down:
[T]he public, to the apparent surprise of the tea partiers, will run out of patience very quickly.
Democrats will start previewing campaign ads for next year. Phones will ring off the hook. Poll numbers will plummet. Suddenly La Revolución won’t seem quite as much fun anymore. The whole thing will then peter out amid much acrimony and scapegoating while Erick Erickson mutters on his blog about how Republicans can never be trusted to stand their ground in support of true conservatism.
Josh Marshall’s read on the American public:
I don’t think the country’s prepared for a full on government shutdown over Obamacare. Or a full on government shutdown over anything for that matter. I don’t mean the country won’t be able to handle it. I mean, I don’t think anyone is expecting it. The country thinks this stuff ended back in 2011 and 2012 and doesn’t have any real idea we might be about to take another ride on this roller-coaster.
Barro notes that most Republican congressmen don’t want a shutdown:
If you believe the press accounts, there are 30 or 40 House Republicans who won’t vote for a continuing resolution that funds Obamacare. With 30 defections, Speaker John Boehner can’t get what he desperately wants: 217 Republican votes for a bill that protects his key spending priority (maintaining low spending levels from sequestration) while avoiding a fight over Obamacare.
But if 30 to 40 House Republicans won’t vote for a CR that funds Obamacare, that means 190 to 200 of them would vote for such a CR. People talk about the “radicalized House GOP” but on this particular issue, most House Republicans aren’t radicalized. They’ve been dragged into this fight, unwillingly, by Cruz. And that’s why they’re so irritated.
Ezra explains why the GOP can’t round up the necessary votes:
Here’s the Republican Party’s problem, in two sentences: It would be a disaster for the party to shut down the government over Obamacare. But it’s good for every individual Republican politician to support shutting down the government over Obamacare.
These smart-for-one, dumb-for-all problems have a name: Collective-action problems. … The best way to understand the plight of the modern GOP is that the party leadership is no longer powerful enough to solve its collective-action problems.
Collender’s bottom line:
Is it possible that we get to the brink on September 30 at 11 pm and everyone decides that a short-term CR and a cooling off period is needed? Absolutely. Is it as likely this year as it has been in the past? Absolutely not.