POLITICS

Dems Say GOP Has Learned Nothing With Shutdown Looming

"I cannot for the life of me understand what the Republicans expect."

WASHINGTON -- Less than three weeks before the government runs out of money, Democrats charged Wednesday that Republicans have learned nothing from past crises and have not even begun to talk about how to avoid a shutdown.

The federal government will run out of funding at the end of the month unless Congress acts before then to pass stalled spending bills or some sort of stopgap resolution to continue funding.

Democrats also vowed to stand firm if Republicans wait until the very last second and try to force Democrats to accept a spending plan that embraces only GOP priorities.

"Two years ago, families across the country watched as Republican leaders promised they were not going to shut down the government," said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), reminding reporters in a Capitol Hill news conference of pledges that GOP leaders made in 2013 and have renewed this year to keep the government open.

"Well, we all remember what happened next. Republican leaders let the tea party take over, and they pushed us into a completely unnecessary shutdown in a bizarre and failed attempt to derail health care reform," Murray added. "Unfortunately, Republican leaders don’t seem to have learned any lessons from 2013, and once again we are just weeks away from an artificial crisis that could hurt our economy."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said before Congress went on its summer break that he would back a short-term continuing resolution to keep Uncle Sam in business if it were needed to buy some time. But when asked earlier Wednesday what his plans are to bring such a measure forward, he told reporters they are still to be determined, as are the elements that should go into such a stopgap bill.

Asked if Republicans had brought any proposals to Democrats since work on Capitol Hill restarted this week, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said they hadn't. "We've heard nothing," he said.

Murray noted that in 2013, when GOP leaders thought they had a way forward, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and like-minded House members balked and tried to use the moment to defund the Affordable Care Act. It failed but led to a shutdown.

This time, Cruz and others are threatening to link funding for Planned Parenthood to broader government spending.

Reid said Democrats would not accept any such measure laden with controversial riders, nor would they agree to a funding bill that reflects only a GOP desire to boost defense spending while cutting domestic programs. 

"I cannot for the life of me understand what the Republicans expect," Reid said, adding that there must be a bona fide negotiation to get Democrats on board. "They better consider how they’re going to fund the government. They can’t just jam us with something, 'cause it just won’t work."

Democrats also insisted they would not cave.

"I think the resolve of the Senate Democrats is there," Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters. "I think it has been throughout this process and I think that this resolve has strengthened by the position of the president. The president is not going to sign this bill. We know ultimately there has to be a better way."

Laura Barron-Lopez contributed reporting.

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.

CONVERSATIONS