By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Washington politicians aren’t all that prone to self-awareness. But it seems to be seeping in how bad they look as they stumble, bicker and lie their way toward yet another government shutdown on Friday night.

“Let’s stop postponing this a week or two at a time, for goodness sakes,” says Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), referring to the string of short-term spending plans that have been approved during their slow-motion train wreck. “It’s an embarrassment to Congress.”

An embarrassment that’s all too familiar.

In 1995 the government shut down twice for a total of 27 days during partisan deadlock over spending priorities. And in 2013, in a dispute over Obamacare funding, 800,000 federal workers – including 91 percent of the civilian workforce at Natick Labs – were furloughed during a 16-day shutdown that closed government buildings and national parks, while more than a million had to work without pay.

And with Friday’s deadline looming, the rhetoric is escalating.

“A majority of my caucus, myself included, we will not fund the government without a DACA deal,” says Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware).

“I don’t want to shut the government down. I think it would be a mistake if the Democrats tried to force us to vote on amnesty. But if they do I will vote no,” says GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana.

Who will be blamed if they can’t make a deal? In recent polling 80 percent of voters said it’s not worth shutting down the government to get the Mexican border wall funded, as President Trump insists. And nearly as many said it’s not worth doing it to protect the Dreamers.

But at the same time, as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) notes: “Eighty percent of Americans want to give the DACA kids a better life. And 80 percent of Americans want to secure our border and change a broken immigration system.”

Those numbers bring back the memory of what one furloughed Natick Labs worker told me back in 2013: “I just want to tell the elected officials and anyone else out there listening, if they don’t do their jobs we should get rid of them.”


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