A government shutdown will be due to the GOP's inner rifts — but they're uniting to blame Democrats

The Republican Party's inability to agree on an immigration bill is putting the government at risk of a shutdown

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 17, 2018 5:22PM (EST)

Mitch McConnell; Paul Ryan (AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Getty/Mark Wilson/Salon)
Mitch McConnell; Paul Ryan (AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Getty/Mark Wilson/Salon)

Republicans may want Americans to believe that the impending government shutdown on Friday is due to Democratic intransigence, but the real problem has been the GOP's inability to get its own house in order.

There is a stopgap measure intended to delay a shutdown by one month — but it may be blocked by GOP hardliners.

On Tuesday House Republican leaders presented a one-month spending bill to their party in the hope that it would at least temporarily avert a shutdown, according to The New York Times. The bill would continue to fund government programs at their current spending levels and extend CHIP, a popular health insurance program for children, while delaying several Affordable Care Act taxes.

Although President Donald Trump supports that plan, House conservatives said on Tuesday that there were enough Republican votes against a stopgap measure to potentially scuttle it.

One of the key issues is immigration reform.

Similarly, although a number of Republican and Democratic Senators had worked together to develop a bipartisan immigration reform bill, that legislation was abruptly undermined by Trump at the last minute after hardline conservatives in Congress intervened. Considering that Trump had previously expressed his support for the bipartisan measure, this has raised questions about whether the GOP could even figure out what its own leader wants them to do on that politically charged issue.

In addition to disagreements over border security and spending on Trump's wall, a key point of contention has been the fate o DACA recipients, the undocumented immigrants who came to America illegally as children. House Speaker Paul Ryan has struggled with balancing the wishes of Democrats, who have insisted that some protection be given to DACA recipients in return for their support of a spending bill, and Republicans who are not only split on the issue of Dreamers' fate but don't want to concede to Democrats, according to Time Magazine.

"I'm looking for something that President Trump supports. And he's not yet indicated what measure he's willing to sign. As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we were not just spinning our wheels going to this issue on the floor but actually dealing with a bill that has a chance to become law and therefore solve the problem," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Wednesday.

Still, Republicans want to blame the Democrats. 

As tweets like the ones below demonstrate, Trump and the Republican Party are determined to ignore their infighting to blame Democrats for the impending government shutdown.

Yet although Republicans have seemed to band together on the notion that Democrats will be to blame if the government shuts down on Friday, the evidence does not bear out that assumption. A poll by Hart Research Associates found that 42 percent of Americans would blame Trump and congressional Republicans for a government shutdown while only 31 percent would blame Democrats. What's more, recent history has shown that even during the last government shutdown — when President Barack Obama was in the White House and Democrats still controlled the Senate — Republicans were still blamed because they had made it clear the shutdown was an attempt to decimate funding for the Affordable Care Act.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Daca Donald Trump Dreamers Government Shutdown Immigration Bill Mitch Mcconnell Paul Ryan