Plan A was for the House to pass a spending measure that gutted the Affordable Care Act, which the Senate could then clean up and send on to the White House. Plan B was the House bill to go ahead and defund the health care law and dare the Senate to pass it. Plan C was the House bill to delay health care benefits for a year and dare the Senate again.
Plan D was a half-hearted House Republican effort to embrace budget talks that House Republicans spent six months avoiding. And Plan E is, well, kind of silly.
House Republican leaders Tuesday told rank-and-file members that they will attempt to pass several separate bills to reopen the government a few agencies at a time.A GOP aide confirmed that leaders want next steps to include passage of a series of continuing resolutions that fund individual government programs -- an idea floated by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Monday.
Why House Republicans don't just make Cruz the Speaker and get it over with is unclear.
Regardless, this new plan is hilarious. Republicans could pass a center-right spending bill and end the shutdown, but what they'd prefer to do is break up the federal spending bill into chunks, and slowly turn the lights on piecemeal. Staffers were referring today to "mini-CRs."
The idea, apparently, is to identify the parts of the Republicans' shutdown that make the public upset, then pass a spending measure that resolves just that part of the crisis while leaving the rest of the government shut down. Americans are annoyed by closed federal parks? No sweat, Republicans say, they'll pass a mini-CR that provides funding to reopen the parks -- and nothing else.
And then when some other part of the shutdown creates public pressure, presumably Republicans would consider flipping the switch on that, too. The goal, apparently, is to shut down the government without feeling the political repercussions of a wildly unpopular government shutdown.
It didn't take long for Democratic policymakers to dismiss the nonsense.
"We just decided in there we're not going to do that," Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said after leaving Tuesday's Senate Democratic Conference meeting.White House spokesman Jay Carney also ripped the idea as "not serious.""If they want to open the government, they should open the government," Carney said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called it "just another whacky idea." Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) asked why opening federal parks is more important than "ensuring seniors, poor mothers, and children have access to meals and critical services?" A senior Senate Democratic aide said the House gimmick has "no chance" of success.
House Republicans can either keep their shutdown going, or they end this fiasco. The time for stunts, gimmicks, and partial pseudo solutions has long since passed.