The Fix says that the new Washington Post poll shows Republicans losing ground in a “no-win situation.” I get that—every party is losing some air from their metaphorical balloons. But this is a two-party system, and one party is clearly taking most of the blame. (Chart via WaPo.) Since the rumors of shutdown began, the percentage of people angry at Obama has jumped 3 points; the percentage blaming Democrats, 5 points; the percentage blaming Republicans, 11 points. It’s roughly the same if you ask whether people “strongly disapprove” of how the players are handling themselves. Respectively, those numbers have jumped 4 points, 8 points, and 12 points. This is the context in which Democrats delight in blaming everything on Ted Cruz. “The theater that went on with Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz—it’s like there’s a group of us desparately trying to put out a fire, and they’re throwing gasoline on it,” said Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, one of the Democratic moderates, after leaving a quorum call today. “That’s not good. I believe that a principled compromise can be found in the Senate, and I believe a principled compromise can be found in the White House. Whether it can be sustained by a House so divided, and a Republican Party so turned on itself, I don’t know.” Landrieu (and all Democrats) are sticking to that line because they want the Senate to vote this week—ASAP—on a deal that defuses the crisis and reopens the government, then ram it through the House. Doing that expeditiously would mean getting unanimous consent. As Josh Green points out, someone like Cruz could deny that UC.
The real killer is that Senate rules stipulate there must be 30 hours of post-cloture debate, unless senators agree unanimously to waive it. Reid and McConnell would want unanimous consent to move quickly, but Cruz could refuse, thereby forcing 30 hours of debate. This would drag things out until Tuesday at 11:30 p.m. Then there would be a vote on the motion to proceed (requiring a simple majority), followed by an intervening day, assuming Cruz withheld his consent to vote earlier. So now we’re looking at a Thursday cloture vote on the bill itself, followed by another 30 hours of post-cloture debate that would blow right past the Treasury deadline.Possibly, but experience suggests that Cruz wouldn’t do it. When a similar issue arose before the shutdown, Cruz initially asked for debate time to be shortened to give the House more time to work on (i.e., reject) the Senate’s CR. Whoever delays the deal, when it emerges, is only giving the House less time to act on it.