Barricades that were used to close the Martin Luther King Memorial during the government shutdown in Washington, Oct 17, 2013.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Will Republicans shut down the government again?


The House of Representatives is back in Washington this week to resolve some of the myriad issues that face Congress before the end of the year.

But the lower chamber isn’t giving itself much time. The House and Senate are in session together for just four more days in 2013. That’s four days to broker a budget deal before the December 13 deadline—not to mention other efforts like immigration reform or workplace discrimination, both of which have stalled in the Republican-controlled House.

Even a small-scale deal would have to pass through the GOP-controlled House—a near-Sisyphean task in today’s Congress. As Greg Sargent reports, Republican negotiators have resisted an extension of unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans.

And December 13 is not the only deadline looming. If the parties fail to reach a deal—or, more likely, if the House GOP rejects any deal that’s reached—the government will again shutdown on January 15. Less than a month later, on February 7th, the country once again hits the debt ceiling.

In a press conference before Thanksgiving break, House Speaker John Boehner shrugged off the lack of progress, telling reporters, “Listen, we have a very divided country and we have a very divided government. And I’m not going to sit here and underestimate the difficulty in finding the common ground, because there’s not as much common ground here as there used to be.”

For many in the GOP, that may not be such a problem. As the New York Times reports, many Republicans are in no rush to pass legislation when they can attack the President’s health care law instead.

Watch Alex discussing the coming budget negotiations with Michael Eric Dyson, Joan Walsh, Jonathan Capehart, Harold Ford Jr., and Luke Russert.