Little Chance Washington’s Top ‘Fixers’ March in to Cut a Shutdown Deal

Vice President Joe Biden (center) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., (left) arrive in the House chamber in February for the State of the Union address. Both have cast aside their deal-making personas recently. (Getty Images)

All eyes in Washington’s government shutdown drama have been fixed on GOP House Speaker John Boehner for weeks. That has been the case in other recent fiscal fights, but in during those, the gaze eventually shifted to two grizzled Washington deal-makers.

A major problem this time is the men who played a big role in averting a U.S. debt default by crafting the 2011 Budget Control Act compromise, followed by the late-December 2012 deal that averted the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

And that means some Intercepts readers should plan to spend most of October tending to those “honey-do lists” or working on their golf swings. This will almost certainly last a while.

Why? There are no political incentives for Washington’s most-skilled “fixers,” Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to ride in just when things seem dire and forge a compromise.

Biden for four years was President Barack Obama’s most effective congressional liason. But as the government shutdown enters Day 2, and the nation careens toward a debt default in a few weeks, Biden is nowhere to be found.

The absence of the “happy warrior” is just another sign the 2016 presidential election cycle is underway.

McConnell’s resistance to brokering some kind of deal to keep the government open is another sign his seat in the Senate is in jeopardy. To be sure, one recent poll sent ripple waves across the U.S. political realm, finding McConnell trailing Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes by two points.

Much has been said on cable news and written questioning whether House Republicans or Senate Democrats will “blink first.” But it’s also worth watching whether Biden or McConnell will blink, temporarily putting their own futures at risk by cutting some deals.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett