Still, the lawmaker thought Senate Democrats, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, would make some sort of concession on a lesser aspect of Obamacare. “I do think, though, when Boehner sent over delay and [repeal of the] medical device tax, I think he thought he’d probably get back medical device, and that would have probably been enough right there,” the congressman said. But Reid and the Democrats steadfastly refused to consider any change to Obamacare, surprising Republicans again. “When [Boehner] didn’t get medical device, I think he did something he didn’t want to do, which was send over the member health care [the Vitter amendment barring Congress from receiving special subsidies on the Obamacare exchanges]. And I think he did that largely because he thought [Democrats] were trying to jam him.” When Boehner lowered his demands to include a delay for just the individual mandate — not for all of Obamacare — Republicans thought Democrats would be open to that more modest proposal.
“Instead, it’s no, we’re not going to negotiate, we’re not going to negotiate, we’re not going to negotiate,” the lawmaker said. “Which means effectively you’re going to try to humiliate the Speaker in front of his conference. And how effective a negotiating partner do you think he’ll be then? You’re putting the guy in a position where he’s got nothing to lose, because you’re not giving him anything to win.”
The result of Reid’s intransigence, coming after multiple Republican miscalculations, was that both sides dug in. Whatever chance there had been of a settlement before — and there really wasn’t much of one, once the events of August began to unfold — there was zero possibility of a deal as September 30 approached. So the shutdown that House leadership never expected came. And it lasted more than the few days some predicted. And it is still going on as the October 17 deadline for raising the nation’s debt ceiling approaches. The crisis that House Republican leaders didn’t see coming is now consuming them, with unpredictable consequences. “We’re not in a situation that has been planned out and war-gamed and plotted, OK?” said the congressman. “We stumbled into a situation like Gettysburg that nobody planned, and all of a sudden each side is feeding more troops into it, and it’s turning into a much bigger deal.”