It's worth it, they say, to rein in the first two years of the Obama administration's spending spree, which included $830 billion in economic stimulus and an expensive new health care law.
Q: Have we been here before?
A. Yes. In 1995 and 1996, President Bill Clinton battled a Republican-led Congress over spending levels (his nemesis was then-Speaker Newt Gingrich).
It ended in a government shutdown -- for 28 days at the end of 1995 and beginning of 1996 -- and the American public largely blamed Congress.
Following the shutdown, Clinton gained an enormous political upper hand and Gingrich later lost his job as speaker.
While politics seem particularly bad during these times, it's important to remember that the government hasn't actually shut down under this Congress or this president. Yet.
Q: So why is this so hard?
A. Passing spending bills is not easy. They can reflect the fundamental differences of governing philosophy. Should we fund school lunches or more tanks? Aid to Egypt or money for Detroit?
It often takes intense negotiating between the two chambers of Congress and the president. But some in Congress complain that President Barack Obama has not been the easiest guy to work with, especially when it comes to bridging partisan gaps.
He rarely interacts with members of Congress, many say they don't trust him and he has angered once-friends on the Hill with his recent positions on Syria.
But the fight over the continuing resolution is just an extension of a deeper fight over the budget. Much to the dismay of Republicans, the Senate in recent years has failed to pass even a simple budget, a precursor to spending bills.
And even though the Senate finally passed a budget -- it did so in March after the House acted -- leaders in both chambers couldn't agree to start the process of combining their versions into a final bill. So the budget went nowhere.
Jim Manley, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the budget encapsulates Washington.
"The current budget process symbolizes all that is wrong with Congress right now. It's broken and needs to be fixed," he said.
Q: But they're really not going to do this, are they?
A: That's not clear. House Republican leaders are well aware of the political risks of threatening to shut down the government. They are reluctantly trying to avoid tying a short-term spending bill to defunding Obamacare. Not surprisingly, a CNN/ORC International poll shows that Republicans would again be blamed if the government does shut down.
"Only a third would consider President Barack Obama responsible for a shutdown, with 51% pointing a finger at the GOP - up from 40% who felt that way earlier this year," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Q: Isn't this a really bad way to run the greatest democracy on Earth?
A: Even if the continuing resolution wasn't wrapped up in talks of politics and government shutdown, Ellis argues that "it's a terrible way to run government."
CRs fund the government at the same level as the previous year. That means wasteful programs that need to be stopped or cut back aren't, and programs that need more money don't get it.
"One way to force government to have waste and inefficiency is to have a CR," Ellis said.
Q: Can it get any worse?
A: It could. The CR is going to be one fight the Congress will have over the next couple of weeks. The next fight will be over the debt ceiling -- permitting the government to borrow more money to pay off its past spending debts.
But that's a different story for a different day.