A ‘mice or men moment’?

A ‘MICE OR MEN MOMENT’?…. With a Friday deadline before a government shutdown, the threat seemed to evaporate last week. Republican leaders presented Democrats with a plan for $6 billion in cuts over three weeks, with most of the cuts coming from Democratic budget plans. Dems agreed to the plan, and success was a foregone conclusion.

Maybe it shouldn’t have been. Over the last 48 hours, a growing number of rank-and-file Republicans have announced they’ll reject the temporary extension put together by their own party’s leadership. If this contingent grows large enough, the continuing resolution that would keep the government’s lights on might very well fail.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) yesterday called this the Republicans’ “mice or men moment,” and said her party should reject the extension unless it guts the American health care system. As it turns out, that’s impossible given the rules of a continuing resolution — Bachmann doesn’t understand how little she understands — but when the measure reaches the floor, we know Bachmann won’t be the only one balking.

Republican Party leaders in both chambers are facing a mini-revolt among freshmen and conservatives over the three-week spending bill that they negotiated with Senate Democrats.

The fight over funding the budget for the rest of the year has dragged on so long without a deal that conservatives in both chambers appear to have had just about enough, with a growing trickle of lawmakers willing to risk a government shutdown instead of voting for another short-term measure.

“In both chambers the natives are getting restless,” said a Senate Republican aide, who added that both parties seemed stuck in the middle of a “ginormous game of chicken.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) announced his opposition, and was soon followed by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). The institutional right is also trying to kill the GOP leadership’s bill, with the Heritage Foundation’s political arm, the Club for Growth, the American Family Association, and the Family Research Council all urging lawmakers to reject the measure.

How serious is this? A House Republican aide, whose boss has not decided whether to support the extension, admitted to Time, “There could be enough ‘no’ votes to kill it.”

If the far-right succeeds, it wouldn’t just be humiliating for the GOP leadership, it would mean a shutdown on Friday is all but assured.

What’s more, the fact that this is even proving to be challenging, and the hysterical wing of the Republican Party has grown so intensely intransigent, suggests the next attempt to strike a longer-term compromise may prove even more difficult than previously believed.