Following the collapse of "Plan C" for healthcare--a repeal of the ACA without any replacement insight, congressional republicans also failed their "plan B" spending bill which failed to garner enough Republican votes to pass without Democrats. Political experts warned that, if the GOP could not force its members into ideological lock-step they might be reduced to crafting legislation that would pass with bi-partisan support.
"This kind of worst-case scenario is not one for which the GOP is prepared.
"I think this sort of thing could be very damaging to the country," said Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority leader. "If these conditions hold there might be a mix of voices crafting legislation--that was not what we were sent to Washington to do."
Other observers agreed. "The voters in 2016 spoke for supporting the President's agenda. If congress can figure out what that actually is, they need to buckle down and force it past Democrat opposition. Whether this means so-called nuking the filibuster or just relying on a 50-vote majority, either way, it has to get done," said Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia.
"A Congress that compromises is a throw-back to the days where the Vice President was selected from the opposition party," noted John Dickerson of Face The Nation and political historian. "In the modern era we are seeing more of a winner-take-all tournament model. Hence the breaking of norms with the filibuster and, for that matter, probably collusion with foreign powers."
The idea that the Republicans, holding a majority in congress, and the White House, could be reduced to working "across the aisle" doubly shocking to a GOP base who believes that Trump won by "historic margins" and "enjoys broad, majority support."
"They don't really understand how this works," said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. "Obama managed to get a lot of his stuff through despite us holding Congress so they expect the same from us. Even the president doesn't understand this."
"I've got constituents calling in who read the president's tweet that he scored 48-4 with the Senate and that's an impressive whip-count. They think it's like the score of a basketball game and can't understand how the bill didn't pass."
He shook his head. "Now, based on Trump's tweets, they want the Senate to get rid of the filibuster--but that wouldn't help--we didn't get filibustered--the Senate just couldn't muster a majority vote! I've even had call-ins that suggest we should pass legislation with 40 votes! The Democrats could pass stuff with that! They just want the President to veto everything. It's awful."
In the wake of the recent failures, Congressional Republicans acknowledge the dark mood over Capitol hill that heralds a grim future of compromise and unity.