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If CHIP loses funding, the Republican Party is to blame.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

A government shutdown looms, and the GOP’s solution has been to ask Democrats to choose between equally inhumane proposals. At Vox, Dylan Scott explains:

So Republicans, after months of criticism and a stalemate over how to pay for CHIP, have decided to turn the tables: They attached a six-year CHIP extension to their short-term spending bill in an attempt to deter Democrats from shutting down the federal government this week over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which the two parties still haven’t agree on how to fix.

If Democrats reject this—and so far the party seems united in its determination to do just that—the government shuts down. Keep in mind that the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health coverage to some 10 million kids, is nearly universally popular, and that extending it costs the government little; extending now, in fact, would actually save the government money. So the usual fiscal excuses don’t apply.

The GOP’s willingness to hold CHIP hostage is instructive: It opposes welfare for reasons that have nothing to do with the deficit. It’s easy to hold something hostage when you know it matters more to everyone else than it does to you.