Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) shared a piece of advice Monday with Republicans threatening a government shutdown: Call Newt Gingrich.
"If Republicans force us to the brink of another government shutdown for ideological reasons, the economy will suffer. I would suggest to any of my Republican colleagues that has this idea, give a call to Newt Gingrich," Reid said in a Senate floor speech. "He'll return your phone calls. Ask him how it worked. It was disastrous for Newt Gingrich, the Republicans and the country."
"It didn't work then and it won't work now," he added. "If Republicans threaten a catastrophic revolt on the nation's bills the economy will suffer, and that is an understatement."
Reid was referring to the government shutdown of 1995, when House Republicans, led by then-Speaker Gingrich (R-Ga.), forced a three-week closure of the federal government -- from Nov. 14-19, and again from Dec. 16, 1995-Jan. 6, 1996. The end result was a political disaster for Republicans, with public opinion largely shifting in favor of President Bill Clinton and Democrats.
A group of Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), issued a threat last week to block a continuing resolution that would keep the federal government open past Sept. 30, if that measure includes any funding for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Numerous GOP lawmakers have slammed the idea, and Lee himself conceded Sunday that the prospects of a government shutdown would be unlikely.
Reid and Democrats have nonetheless used the threat as an opportunity to once again cast Republicans as uncompromising and willing to take steps that would be drastic for Americans and the economy.
"He’s living in a dreamland," Reid said of Lee last week. "So Republicans -- even Republicans won’t agree with what he’s trying to do. And he is representative of the tea party, and that shows how senseless and illogical it is."