Here’s how the House Republicans shut down the government. Let’s picture the U.S. Congressional House as half of a very large family going out to eat dinner (the other half is the Senate). The entire family, House and Senate, are in agreement that they’re going to eat and spend money. They arrive at the restaurant and most of the family goes in, gets seated and starts eating while the driver and a few others from the House park the car. They take a long time to park the car (maybe, the lot is full and they have to go down the street).
The driver and those with him come in after many appetizers and drinks have already been consumed by the rest of their party. The driver and his folks finally sit down and eat some food with the rest of the family. At the end of the meal when they receive the check a subset of the House side of the family, led by the driver, says “We’re not going to pay for that extra stuff the family consumed before we came in and sat down.” One half of the family members, the Senate, and some from the other side, the House, say “We really need to pay the entire bill. That’s our obligation and that’s how it’s done.” The Restaurant Manager (who is a cousin) tells the members that you’re not allowed to leave until you pay the bill and the restaurant cannot continue serving more customers if this large party doesn’t pay their bill.
But the driver and his group hold out. Most of the family members say “Let’s vote on it” because that’s how they always resolve disagreements. The Senate half of the family vote on their own and they vote “Yes, pay the bill.” The House half of the family is more divided. The driver and his supporters in the House say okay but only if we add something into the negotiation. They modify their stance by saying, “We’ll pay the dinner bill but only if we all agree that we won’t pay for groceries for certain family members that aren’t here at the restaurant”. The House family members vote and the majority of them vote “Yes, pay the bill and don’t buy groceries”–particularly the driver and his group vote almost unanimously. BUT the entire family has to agree to access the bank account so the Senate tells the House side, “no, no, take off that clause about not buying groceries and just vote on whether you should pay the bill”.
Family members outside of the restaurant find out about the discussion (via Twitter?) and start calling in to family members inside the Restaurant and the majority of them say, “Pay the bill, buy the groceries and quit screwing around”. The two sides of the family go back and forth. Meanwhile the restaurant is at a complete standstill and family members outside aren’t getting any groceries and are starting to get hungry.
After a while the House side decides that they will vote but only to vote on certain parts of the bill. First they vote to pay for the beverages only. The driver and his group vote yes but the rest vote no. There are more yes’s than no’s so that idea gets sent over to the Senate and they reject it because they really need to pay the whole bill. The Senate says try again. Then the House votes on paying only for the desserts, etc, etc. This process continues over and over again.
Meanwhile, the driver and his group of supporters are saying that it’s all the fault of the Restaurant Manager and the Senate family members. They say it’s the Managers fault that the restaurant is at a standstill and that their family members outside the restaurant aren’t eating because he refuses to accept that outside family members cannot have groceries and he refuses to negotiate with them on the bill. The Manager tells them he won’t back down because 1) you have to pay the entire bill and 2) you can’t refuse food to the family members outside the restaurant because the law (a legitimate constitutional law) says you can’t starve your family members. The driver also blames the Senate family members because they also won’t pass their individual requests to only pay for the beverages or only the desserts, etc.
So, that’s what’s happening right now. The House is refusing to pay the bill that they and the Senate, as a group, ran up. And they’re using the fundamental well being of people outside of Congress as a means to get around the law that says they have to provide for the people outside of the restaurant. It nucking futs.