Another GOP civil was has broken out as the Trump White House provides zero leadership.
Any hopes that Republicans and the White House had of blaming Democrats for the looming government shutdown largely went up in smoke Thursday as it became increasingly clear that the unfolding federal fiasco had devolved into yet another GOP civil war.
Donald Trump and Republicans strategists certainly hoped they could convince voters that supposedly radical obstructionist Democrats would be responsible for any shutdown.
Trump has even tried to blame Democrats for undermining the U.S. military if a shutdown occurs.
But at this point, Democrats are essentially bystanders. They don't control the House, the Senate, or the White House, and they don't control whether the government shuts down or not.
As the shutdown clocks ticks toward midnight on Friday, when funding officially runs out without the passage of a new short-term spending measure, it's obvious the larger battle has shifted from Republican versus Democrat, to Republican versus Republican.
And specifically, the bruising bout is between the Republican leadership and the GOP's far-right Freedom Caucus, which refuses to support a stop-gap spending measure.
That brawl is now being played out in public view, with Speaker Paul Ryan unable to get the support he needs from his own party:
What we just saw in the house floor was pretty amazing. GOP leadership — Ryan and McHenry — whipping for the government funding bill, as freedom caucus’ Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan whip against it. With both chambers and WH, still a intraparty brawl to keep government open.
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) January 18, 2018
Freedom Caucus chair slaps down Paul Ryan’s claim that he has enough GOP votes to pass the CR. “I promise you, he does not have the votes.”
— Alice Ollstein (@AliceOllstein) January 18, 2018
— Rachael Bade (@rachaelmbade) January 18, 2018
The political fratricide plays out while the White House provides zero leadership amidst the chaotic negotiations.
Trump himself obliterated any chance of a deal between Democrats and Republicans with regards to funding for border security in conjunction with federal action to help protect 800,000 young immigrants from deportation.
Trump blew up those chances of a deal when he angrily dismissed a bipartisan proposal last week and unfurled racist, vulgar language during an Oval Office meeting to describe countries that send black immigrants to the U.S.
That in turn hardened the resolve of many Democrats who no longer support any short-term spending measure. Without that passage the government will shut down on the one-year anniversary of Trump becoming president.
Meanwhile, since his racist outburst Trump has been sending confused, mixed messages to Republicans via Twitter about how best to resolve the current crisis. "I have no idea what he means," one flummoxed House Republican told The Hill on Thursday.
If and when the government shuts down, there will be enough blame to cover all factions of the GOP.