Early Tuesday morning, after a fourth vote on a federal budget that the Senate vowed to reject, and as the government slipped into shutdown, House Republicans were out of ideas.
They had voted to tie funding for the government to defunding Obamacare -- then tried delaying the health care law for a year, delaying just the individual mandate, and finally pitching a conference committee between the House and Senate to iron out a compromise.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats made clear repeatedly that anything but a “clean” resolution, one that funds the government but includes no other policy add-ons, would be dead on arrival.
Now, with the government closed until Congress can reach an agreement, House Republicans appear to have stretched as far as their ideologically disjointed conference will allow.
When asked early Tuesday whether House Republicans have a plan for what comes next, Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., said: “No. And I don’t think we need to have another plan.”
“I think it’s time for the Senate to do something and stop criticizing what the House does,” said Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill. “I don’t think the House can really do anything else.”
The majority of House Republicans have concluded that they have already negotiated enough among themselves, and many of them doubt that they will suffer any tangible political repercussions by taking on the Senate more aggressively.
In a conversation after the House took its final vote early Tuesday, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, looked back at past shutdowns. All of them, he said, proved that there is strength in being ideologically steadfast.
“The entity that succeeds in this is the one that forces the other side to blink,” King said.
There are alternative courses to brute legislative force. Multiple House Republicans acknowledged that a resolution to fund the government without anything attached would pass the House with some Democratic support.
In the near-term, however, Republicans don’t consider this outcome likely.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said a short-term resolution could still be possible, and he would support one that extends government funding for 10 days to end a shutdown.
“I see no point in not ensuring the government stays open as long as there’s negotiation,” Issa said. “Of course, I would like to see some negotiation.”
But, when asked why House Republicans had not considered such a short-term funding proposal, Issa quickly and blatantly changed the subject before beginning to walk away.
“What I don’t know, I don’t know,” he finally yelled back across the Capitol plaza. “Have a good evening.”