Assuming there's no breakthrough today, the current government shutdown is poised to become the longest in American history. It's against this backdrop that the White House has an obsessive focus -- and it's not on finding a solution.
When Donald Trump traveled to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, he huddled with Senate Republicans and offered nothing in terms of plans or proposed compromises. Instead, the president focused all of his energy in urging GOP lawmakers to remain united in opposition to Democratic efforts to re-open the government -- despite the fact that Democrats are proposing the same policy Trump and Senate Republicans supported last month.
There's some evidence that the president's lobbying efforts are falling short.
The group of House Republicans voting to buck President Trump and end the government shutdown grew to a dozen members on Thursday -- including the GOP's most recent campaign chairman.Twelve Republicans voted to fully fund the Departments of Transportation and Housing & Urban Development Thursday afternoon, up a bit from a previous high of eight members on Wednesday.
Joining the defectors yesterday was Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), who served as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee in the most recent Congress.
For those keeping score, the first Democratic proposal to pass a clean spending bill and end the shutdown, considered last week, garnered five House Republican votes. The next measure received support from seven House GOP members. On Wednesday, eight House Republicans broke ranks, and yesterday, the number climbed to 12.
To be sure, these numbers aren't overwhelming. As this week got underway, GOP leaders in the chamber feared "dozens" of House Republicans were ready to give up on their party's gambit and support Democratic efforts to re-open the government. So far, the totals have been more modest.
That said, the number is steadily growing -- and as the shutdown drags on, seemingly for no good reason, it's likely to get even bigger.
As for the upper chamber, the New York Times reported yesterday that Senate Republicans had not yet reached a breaking point, but Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) told the newspaper, "We're getting pretty close."