Back in September 2000, David Schippers, who had prosecuted the impeachment case against Bill Clinton during the Senate trial, went on CNN and complained that he had not been allowed to present all his evidence because the Senate Republicans were not interested.

ROGER COSSACK: You used the word “Sell Out,” and you also said this trial was rigged. Why do you say that?

DAVID SCHIPPERS: Well, it was. In Chicago, we refer to it as a first ward election. The outcome was decided before we ever went over to the Senate. Apparently, they had all agreed, one, the Republicans didn’t want to be bothered with this; two, the Democrats were going to vote not guilty. So it was a foregone conclusion. We didn’t know it at the time but…

When I look at the current situation in Congress, I see the same dynamics. The House decided to prosecute ObamaCare and, in the furtherance of that plan, decided to shut down the government and threaten a default on our debt despite the fact that no objective observer could see how they could possibly win.

In 1999, the Senate Republicans were scared of upsetting the base of the party, so they pretended to go along with the plan, but they could read the polls and they knew the political realities. They felt that they had to allow the trial, but they were just going through the motions. They thought the House Republicans were deeply misguided and when it came time for the Senate to take over the show, they couldn’t get the show over fast enough.

I think that’s where we are right now with the government shutdown.

“The president has got to be open to working with us,” [Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.] said. “Democrats have got to understand we have a seat the table and we have a right to be involved in negotiations.”

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said House GOP lawmakers are looking to Senate Republicans to hold the line for they party. “It’s now up to the Senate Republicans to hold firm,” the Idaho Republican said.

House Republicans had been looking for the president to sign a debt limit increase while the government remained shuttered and negotiations continued on a spending deal. Several GOP Senators, however, have largely rejected that approach, saying Congress needs to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling before the government runs out of borrowing authority on Oct. 17.

But even as House lawmakers seemed to be throwing the ball into the Senate’s court, there was deep suspicion of the Senate Republicans’ willingness to cut an acceptable deal with the White House and Senate Democrats.

If Henry Hyde is looking down on this, he probably isn’t smiling.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at