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Chris Van Hollen - a Democrat representing Maryland in the House Of Representatives - posted a video on his YouTube channel yesterday demonstrating how, in the final hours leading up to the shutdown, House Republicans on the Rules Committee made a last-minute revision to the rulebook that all but guaranteed the event would take place. Per the description of the clip:
“Late in the evening on September 30, 2013, the House Rules Committee Republicans changed the Rules of the House so that the ONLY Member allowed to call up the Senate's clean CR for a vote was Majority Leader Eric Cantor or his designee -- all but guaranteeing the government would shut down a few hours later and would stay shut down. Previously, any Member would have had the right to bring the CR up for a vote. Democracy has been suspended in the House of Representatives.”
So even if the Democrats do show their bellies and give in to the GOP's demands, only Cantor has the authority to end the shutdown; when he decides that the nation has suffered enough, that is.