Are there enough votes in the House for a clean continuing resolution to reopen the government? It turns out that's not a simple question, since many Republicans are cowards who in one breath indicate that they'd like to reopen the government with a clean bill and in the next, presumably having noticed the glares across the room of their tea party colleagues, insist that they never said any such thing. CNN sums up the situation:
All 200 Democrats and 17 Republicans support passing a continuing resolution with no additional legislative strings attached that would reopen the federal government, which has been partially closed for a week over a bitter policy dispute between Republicans and Democrats on health care. The number 217 is significant in that it is the minimum needed for the measure to win approval in the House. [...]
But this does not mean a vote will happen any time soon, given that these Republicans have not indicated a willingness to try to force Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to bring a continuing resolution with no strings attached to the floor for a vote.
That's an extremely, uh, polite
way of putting it: They "have not indicated a willingness." To put it another way, some Republicans from relatively swingy districts realize this could spell trouble for them in the general election, but they're not willing to risk a well-funded challenge from the right in the Republican primary. And some Republicans, while they'd like to keep people from getting health care and have no objection to kicking kids out of Head Start, still think this is a little far to go for that. Added to primary worries, they're not willing to risk retaliation by their teabagger colleagues, or by John Boehner doing the bidding of the teabaggers. They're cowards, knowing that a clean CR is the best thing for the nation, but not willing to do one damn thing to make that happen.
As a result, Boehner gets to claim with a straight face that the votes aren't there. Because, while they are there, the Republicans who would so vote are too afraid to push Boehner, while the extremist vandal caucus is in no way afraid to push him to keep the government closed and probably force the nation into default on top of it, and he's under their sway. The continuing shutdown, in short, is because the Republican caucus is composed of the most poisonous possible mixture of bullies and cowards.