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Now in Day 3 of the government shutdown both sides have made some gaffes but neither seems to have much of a solution. The House Republicans are now testing out Ted Cruz’s plan of funding the government piecemeal style – department by department. The first two bills fund the departments that are getting the most negative press coverage – the closing of the national monuments and the cessation of childhood cancer research.

The GOP’s latest tactic, to pass small, targeted bills to fund the National Institutes of Health, which would take care of the children-with-cancer problem, and the National Park Service, which would take care of the veterans-who-can’t-visit-their-memorial problem.

The House passed those bills Wednesday night and now lawmakers are waiting to see whether Senate Democrats will vote down measures to fund public health and the nation’s historic and natural heritage. Reid’s statements Wednesday suggested Democrats will do just that, but Republicans are waiting to see if they really do.

If Senate Democrats vote down those bills they risk the Republicans having cause to blame them for the shutdown. If Senate Democrats pass those bills they have a whole new set of problems as the House Republicans will just keep passing department by department appropriations minus Obamacare. In other words, they win.

But is it a bluff worth calling? If Senate Majority Leader Reid kills the House bills or the Democratically controlled Senate does in a formal vote the Democrats will have made their position crystal clear – the shutdown will continue until a “clean CR” is passed. Then it comes down to who the public will blame for the pain caused by the shutdown.

This is one big hand of poker and no way to govern a country.

Photo by Nyks under Creative Commons license.