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Congressional Republicans debate empty chairs, lose

Congressional Republicans debate empty chairs, lose
Congressional Republicans debate empty chairs, lose

As a last-minute stunt, House Republicans, who've spent the last six months refusing to enter budget negotiations with Democrats, announced late last night that they're ready for budget negotiations with Democrats. Early this morning, GOP leaders selected the eight members they'd like to send to these negotiations, known as a "conference committee."

True to form, Republicans chose eight middle-aged, far-right white guys, most of whom are from the south. They then put the eight GOP lawmakers in a conference room across from empty chairs, and tweeted the picture in the hopes of making it appear that they, unlike those rascally Democrats, are "ready to negotiate."

And if there's one thing Republicans are good at, it's debating empty chairs, right Clint Eastwood?

In case anyone is tempted to find this silly little picture/gambit compelling, let's note a few relevant details Republicans desperately hope you don't know.

1. Democrats pleaded with Republicans to enter budget talks for six months, but Republicans refused, fearing such talks might lead to a compromise. For GOP officials to throw out the idea last night with literally less than an hour to go before the shutdown deadline was cheap and childish, even by Republican standards.

2. GOP leaders now say they're ready to "compromise," but only if they take away health care benefits, and only if Republicans don't have to accept any concessions. I've come to believe GOP lawmakers are genuinely, sincerely confused about what the word "compromise" actually means. I'm tempted to take up a collection and buy them all dictionaries.

3. Democrats have said they're prepared to participate in the conference committee anyway if Republicans would only end the government shutdown.

So if the eight middle-aged, far-right white guys want to stop losing a debate to empty chairs and start governing, they should move past these little stunts and turn the government's lights on.