But let’s be clear. It’s not a generic “Washington” or “Congress” that’s responsible for 4,000 FAA employees and around 70,000 construction workers being off the job. It’s Republicans.
Yes, congressional Democrats could end the shutdown, temporarily. By capitulating.
At a press conference today, pressed on why Senate Democrats didn’t capitulate yesterday by agreeing to the unclean extension bill passed by House Republicans, Harry Reid noted that if they did so, when negotiations resumed after recess, Republicans “will just have other hostages then.”
Reid was joined by Jay Rockefeller, Barbara Boxer, Chuck Schumer and Steny Hoyer in making this point. This shutdown and this fight are not about rural air subsidies. The question is whether every time Republicans take a hostage, Democrats should capitulate. As Schumer said, responding to a reporter who really, really wanted the story to be about Democrats,
The issue is not essential air service, it’s not even the labor issue, it’s the issue of hostage-taking. It’s as if someone puts a gun to your head and says ‘give me your money’ and you say ‘why don’t you give them the money’ without even mentioning that there’s a gun.
The ways Democrats have tried to work this out through normal channels are legion. Reid and the others at the press conference emphasized that Senate Democrats have repeatedly tried to pass a clean short-term extension, only to be blocked by Republicans; similarly House Democrats have a clean extension bill ready and waiting. Both houses have passed long-term reauthorization bills, but while Senate has appointed members for a conference committee, the House has not done so. Rockefeller reported that while substantial work has been done working out differences between the two long-term bills, John Boehner has sent the message that the only way the House will consider a clean extension is if, on the long-term bill, the Senate agrees on several points related to Republicans’ anti-union provision.
Republican intransigence is what’s holding up a clean extension of the FAA’s reauthorization. If anyone—from the media to the president—implies that the blame is to be equally apportioned, they’re basically saying that Democrats should immediately cede any role in governance, that as long as Republicans are willing to cause damage to get their own way, Democrats should just get out of the way or be held equally responsible. Of course there are going to be idiots in the media who don’t know better. The president and his administration should.