THE ONGOING THREAT OF A SHUTDOWN…. A week ago, after Senate Democratic leaders implored their Republican colleagues to steer away from a possible government shutdown, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office mocked the Dems’ concerns.

“As Republicans focus on constructive ways for the two parties to work together on cutting spending and debt, Sen. Schumer seems strangely preoccupied with the notion of a government shutdown,” a spokesperson for McConnell said. “It is our hope that he soon realizes the only person talking about a shutdown is Sen. Schumer.”

Someone might want to let McConnell’s office know it’s not just Schumer.

A top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee says that the fight to cut spending could lead to a government shutdown.

“I know that that’s not something leadership wants to do. Is it a possibility? Yes, it is a possibility, but we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, told reporters off the House floor Thursday.

Simpson, who chairs a House Appropriations subcommittee, is the highest ranking Republican to go that far in suggesting a government shut down could happen.

The report added that many rank-and-file Republicans will accept nothing but everything they want, which might cause some trouble when it comes to negotiations with Senate Democrats and the White House.

A resolution has to be reached by March 4th. I’d say the chances of a shutdown are at least 50-50.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.