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Washington's Dare Game

          <p class="speakable"><span class="dateline">WASHINGTON  –  </span>A blame game will consume Washington if the government shuts down this week.</p>

              
<p class="speakable">But first, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle must play the <i>dare</i> game. </p> Republicans will essentially <i>dare</i> Democrats to vote no on an interim spending plan to avoid a shutdown. If Democrats vote yes, the government remains open. But if Democrats cast nay ballots, Republicans will try to turn that decision against vulnerable lawmakers in the midterm elections. 
By the same token, Democrats will dare Republicans to reject the same stopgap plan. This is a hope that the GOP -- wielding majorities in both the House and Senate and President Trump occupying the White House -- will present themselves as incapable of governing. A nay vote by Republicans could trigger a government shutdown. Democrats will cast the shutdown as emblematic of the bedlam associated with the Trump presidency. The irony is that neither side truly wants to stumble into a government shutdown this weekend. But Republicans and Democrats alike are daring the other side to do so. If the government shutters, only then will the sides engage in a ritualistic tournament of blame.
              
Here’s what’s at stake: House Republican leaders hope to approve an interim spending bill to run the government through February 16 and avert a shutdown. Latched to the package is a multi-year extension of a popular health care coverage plan for children. The bill is notably devoid of any DACA language to help persons brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. But here’s the problem: Republicans may lack the votes on their side to pass the plan unilaterally without seeking Democratic support. Conservatives and members of the Freedom Caucus balk over a host of issues. Many Republicans seethe that their leaders authored a fourth emergency bill to fund the government and not a full-blown plan for the balance of the year. Republican defense hawks are apoplectic they haven’t secured a hike in military spending. Some GOPers like Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., won’t vote yes because the party has yet to address DACA.