Eric Cantor would really prefer you stopped using the phrase “government shutdown.”
Senate Democrats have been taunting Republicans for weeks now about the possibility for a repeat of 1995 and 1996, when an inability to reach a budget agreement between the President Clinton and the GOP led to a shutdown. And Cantor, the House majority leader, has about had it up to here with it.
“Any time that we on our side propose a spending cut, it seems that Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin…and Harry Reid, scream ‘shutdown,'” Cantor said Monday during a question-and-answer session with reporters. “Why is it necessarily that you’re only hearing ‘shutdown’ from one side? We have consistently said it’s not our intention to shut down this government. That is political talk and we ought to get that off the table.”
Democratic Sens. Schumer and Reid have called on Republicans over and over again to say they won’t consider a shutdown in the debate over how to fund the government, which must be resolved by March 4 when the last temporary spending measure expires.
Democrats, however, seem to be the only ones warning about a shutdown unprovoked. Senate leaders have held numerous press conferences, released statements and participated in conference calls for the past few weeks to talk about it.
As the March 4 deadline approaches, it would seem both parties are trying to position themselves in a way that will make the other side appear responsible just in case they cannot find an agreement. If House Republicans refuse to reduce their demands for $100 billion in cuts for the next extension period, Democrats will say it’s their fault for not compromising. Republicans will counter that they do not control the federal government, just one chamber — and the lower one to boot.
While it’s true that some Republicans aren’t taking the possibility completely off the table, neither are some Democrats.
“If they don’t budge and say they want a government shutdown, they’re causing it,” Schumer said when asked if he thought a shutdown was possible.