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October 13, 2013 8:55 AM A General Disarray

By Martin Longman

For a brief period, Rep. Paul Ryan emerged as a potential deal-maker who could solve the impasse in Congress before a catastrophic default on our country’s debts. But any hope of that ended yesterday when Ryan spoke against a Collins-Manchin proposal under consideration in the Senate and complained:

“They’re trying to cut the House out, and trying to jam us with the Senate. We’re not going to roll over and take that,” said House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

In truth, senators from both parties had no choice but to conclude that the House of Representatives is incapable of agreeing to anything acceptable to the president so long as they insist on adhering to the Hastert Rule (no bill will be brought to the House floor unless it has the support of the majority of the Republican caucus).

With such fervor still rampant among House Republicans, there was bipartisan agreement in the Senate that Boehner’s House had lost its ability to approve anything that could be signed by Obama into law. Republicans decided the Senate must act first, hoping that the pressure of the Thursday debt deadline would lead to the House passing the measure even if it meant just a small collection of the GOP’s House majority joined with the Democratic minority to approve a deal.
“At this point, they have dealt themselves out of this process. They cannot agree among themselves,” Durbin said. “And that makes it extremely difficult to take them seriously.”

Again, the backdrop logic here is that default is an impossibility. The Senate will not fail to extend the debt ceiling, and they’ve given up on the idea that the majority of House Republicans will vote for an extension of the debt ceiling. Speaker Boehner now faces a choice between allowing a vote the majority of his caucus opposes or being responsible for a global financial meltdown. That’s an easy choice.

House Republicans are hopping mad, with different factions pointing fingers of blame in all directions: at the administration for being intransigent, at Ted Cruz for leading them astray, as the Senate Republicans for selling them out, at the Tea Party for being unrealistic, at the moderates for undermining their message, at the Speaker for ineffectiveness, at the press for being biased, at the polls for being skewed, and at the Democrats for being mean.

It’s no wonder that some people are calling these the Last Days of the GOP.

The battle over the shutdown has highlighted the cracks and fissures within the party. The party’s leadership has begun to lose control of its members in Congress. The party’s base has become increasingly shrill and is almost as dissatisfied with the Republican leadership in Washington as it is with President Obama. New conservative groups have echoed, and taken advantage of, this sentiment by targeting Republicans identified with the leadership for defeat. And a growing group of Republican politicians, who owe their election to these groups, has carried the battle into the halls of Congress. That is spelling doom for the Republican coalition that has kept the party afloat for the last two decades.

At this point, only one thing can still go wrong. If the Senate isn’t careful, they will delay things to the point that a single senator could cause a default by refusing to grant their consent to speed along the process of passing a bill before we hit the deadline. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell knows this, which is why he loses leverage with every minute that goes by without a deal.

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