Politics, Moderate



Blame McConnell and Ryan for the shutdown

Catherine Rampell on

It was neither the #TrumpShutdown nor the #SchumerShutdown. It wasn't even the #StephenMillerShutdown.

It was always the #McConnellRyanShutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan are responsible for the completely avoidable three-day federal shutdown that ended Monday. They will likewise be responsible for the catastrophe coming in a few weeks if Congress can't get its act together to raise the debt ceiling.

McConnell and Ryan, after all, not only lead the majority party. They also control the legislative agenda. They determine which bills come up for a vote and when. And they knew far in advance the drop-dead deadlines for keeping the government funded.

They also knew the Democrats' conditions for cooperating.

But McConnell and Ryan chose to do nothing. Worse than nothing: They frittered away their precious time and political capital on policy pursuits that were totally irrelevant. Worse than totally irrelevant: actively destructive.

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Every year, Congress must pass a budget. This is … not a surprise. Yet for the first half of last year, Republican congressional leaders chose to spend their time and energy chasing a repeal of Obamacare, a phenomenally unpopular endeavor that would have raised premiums and ripped health insurance from tens of millions of Americans.

They failed, of course. In the meantime, they also missed their opportunity to pass a budget before the new fiscal year began in October.

So they kicked that can down the road, passed a stopgap funding measure and promised to deal with a real budget later. Sometime before early December.

Instead of even attempting to pass a budget at that point, Ryan and McConnell pivoted to another unrelated, unpopular and fiscally profligate hobby horse: tax cuts for corporations and the rich.


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