The top Democrat on the House Budget Committee implored Speaker John Boehner today to put forward a "clean" bill to keep the government running by getting Democrats to join with rank-and-file Republicans who are not aligned with defiant demands to link the budget fight to stopping Obamacare.
"I don't think the country should be the victim of this Republican civil war," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said. "This is the time when the speaker's got to step up and exert some leadership."
While some Democrats have not said whether they would help Boehner pass an emergency spending bill, largely because they object to the funding levels that have already been cut because of the sequester, Van Hollen said today that he would support a short-term solution, even for only a week.
"All he has to do is try," Van Hollen said, adding that Boehner could share the blame with Democrats if they didn't support it. "My view is we should do anything we can to avoid a shutdown."
Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, spoke to reporters today at The Monitor Breakfast, a forum hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
He said "everyone looks bad when you have a government shutdown," but predicted Republicans would suffer far more politically. The budget stalemate was a sign, he said, that the next fight over raising the debt limit could be even more problematic - and "dangerous" to the economy.
"There is the thinking if you feed the beast they will be satisfied," Van Hollen said of tea party demands. "But the opposite is true."
As the clock ticked closer to a government shutdown when the fiscal year ends at midnight, Van Hollen expressed deep skepticism about any immediate resolutions to the impasse.
"The scary thing is there is no endpoint to the shutdown," Van Hollen said. "Once you go down this road, it's not clear how it comes to an end."