"At this time last year, John Boehner was making the exact same promises that he wouldn't shut down the government—and look at how that turned out," said Emily Bittner, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "If Republicans are serious about keeping the government open, they'll take shutdown off the table immediately when Congress comes back into session, instead of forcing the American people to endure another protracted fight about the uncertainty of a shutdown."
The prevailing theory predicting a shutdown goes something like this:
1) President Obama announces an executive action easing deportations of some immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children.
2) A contingent of House Republicans demand that leaders include language in a continuing resolution blocking Obama's action. Leaders do, pass it, and send it to the Senate.
3) The Senate refuses to pass the House CR, instead passing a version without the immigration language or simply calling on the House to pass a clean CR—that is, one without legislative add-ons.
4) The House holds steady and the government shuts down.
The scenario wasn't manufactured out of whole cloth; substitute blocking administrative immigration action with repealing the Affordable Care Act, and this is essentially what happened last year when the government did shut down.
For the most part, though, Republicans publicly and privately agree that allowing the government to shut down over health care law demands was neither practically nor politically advantageous. It hurt their image nationally, and numerous aides said there is no chance they will walk over that cliff again this year.
That is especially so because of the election. Sen. Mitch McConnell is projecting a hero's image of himself, hoping to win control of the Senate by saying that shutdowns are "a failed policy" that he would not allow on his watch.
The House is key to winning the Senate this year. Six House Republicans are seeking a promotion to the Senate, including two races that are pivotal to wrestling control of the chamber from Majority Leader Harry Reid—Rep. Bill Cassidy's challenge to Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Rep. Tom Cotton's attempt to unseat Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas.
House leaders are wary of endangering these candidates' chances by playing into Democrats' attempts to stigmatize the House GOP as extremists hellbent on a government shutdown.
So if both House and Senate Republican leaders have made clear they don't want a shutdown, then who does? Those who believe a shutdown is on the horizon say it is not leaders, but the rank and file that will force it. They point to quotes from King insisting that a CR include a rebuke of Obama if the president issues an executive action on immigration.
In this scenario it would be a repeat of last month, when leaders bowed to their hard-liners to pass a border supplemental funding bill. Still, beyond King, it is unclear how much appetite there is to force the immigration issue in a CR. Other GOP members have advised against toying with a shutdown.