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The latest episode of federal government shutdown theater turned out to be a total bust! Hardly anybody outside of Washington D.C. even noticed, and now, it’s all over—at least for a few more weeks. The Washington Post reports on the sudden demise of the 19th federal government shutdown since 1974’s Budget and Impoundment Control Act became the nation’s main law governing how the U.S. Congress approves spending.
From the outset, the government shutdown had been a test of wills. On Monday morning, the Democrats realized they had lost theirs.
At a caucus meeting in a room just off the Senate floor, a group of vulnerable Senate Democrats told their leader, Charles Schumer, N.Y., that the cost of their effort to protect young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” from deportation was rapidly escalating. It could imperil what was otherwise a promising outlook in November’s midterm election – and with it, the Democrats’ hopes of ending their exile from power.
With the shutdown heading into its third day, they were feeling the heat and finding it hard to control the messaging war. Voters in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were getting Republican robo-calls saying Democrats had “prioritized illegal immigrants over American citizens.”
So the Democrats decided to take a deal they had turned down only the night before—a less-than-airtight assurance by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that “it would be my intention” to consider legislation that would address those immigrants in the coming weeks, but only if the government were reopened.
And so, what was promised to be a great battle of wills in the U.S. Congress came to a very sudden end, with a stunning political cave-in, where the only thing that the people who voted against approving an almost identical temporary extension in federal spending authority last Friday won in their successful effort to shut the federal government down for a long weekend was … another opportunity to shut the government down again in three weeks instead of four.
Only in Washington D.C.