"We've seen the movie before," Sen. John McCain said recently on CNN's "New Day."
Oh, how right you are, Senator.
When Bill Murray's clock radio goes off at 6 a.m. and Sonny and Cher's tune "I've got you Babe" plays in the '90s classic "Groundhog Day," perhaps the radio should have been tuned into the latest news from Washington.
The Arizona senator was talking about the government shutdown that is being threatened on Oct. 1.
Congress and the president are again at loggerheads on how to move forward as the government's money runs out at the end of the fiscal year this month and federal agencies are once again warning employees and preparing contingency plans for a closed government.
All this because Republicans are making demands in exchange for government funding and Democrats are saying "no way."
"We are committed to changing the status quo in Washington and restoring our fiscal stability," a tea party-backed House freshman said.
"At a time when the economy is just beginning to grow, where we're just starting to see a pickup in employment, the last thing we need is a disruption that's caused by a government shutdown," President Barack Obama argued.
While the above two statements could have been made today, the lines were drawn more than two years ago -- in the weeks before the first major battle between newly empowered libertarian-oriented Republicans and Democrats that nearly led to a government shutdown.
You aren't dreaming. And you aren't starring in "Groundhog Day II." You have heard this before. A government shutdown is a possibility and the issues haven't changed: the size and cost of government, the debt limit and health care.
Some House Republicans are threatening to prevent mandatory, annual government spending bills from moving forward if the health care law, also known as Obamacare, isn't defunded. It's a tactic that Democrats have flatly rejected and even many in the Republican Party, including House Speaker John Boehner, advise against.
Republican strategist and CNN contributor David Frum also offered words of caution. "(R)epeal-or-bust is much more likely to produce a bust than a repeal," he wrote in an editorial on CNN.com on Monday. "More productive is the challenge of reforming Obamacare so that the nation can live with its costs," he added.
Julian Zelizer, history professor at Princeton, entered the debate with an editorial. He said the Republican Party's strategy to address the budget through "risky" showdowns "hurts its ability to persuade the public that the Republicans are interested in seriously pursuing fiscal restraint, as opposed to using this issue for purely partisan purposes."
That's McCain's point. "Republicans ought to understand if we shut down the government, Congress always gets blamed -- rightly or wrongly -- Congress gets blamed," McCain said Monday.
He's right. According to a recent CNN/ ORC International Poll, 51 percent of respondents would blame Republicans in Congress if the government closes its doors in October.
Adding to the tension, in mid- to late-October, the debt ceiling is set to be reached. It's a convoluted term that means the United States would have reached its borrowing limit and would be unable to pay bills already incurred -- or default on its loans. Republicans have signaled they want to extract spending cuts in exchange for an increase in the debt limit.
Obama said he "will not negotiate" on the debt ceiling.
"Congress needs to get it done without triggering another crisis, without shutting down our government, or worse, threatening not to pay this country's bill(s)," the president said in an economic speech Monday.
"I think we're facing an extraordinary few weeks of potential turmoil at the least and crisis at the worst," CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein said.
That could be the most oft-repeated political statement of the past few years.
It goes way back -- to April 2011
Just five months after Republicans won a huge majority in the House of Representatives, seizing control of half of one branch of government from Democrats, the first major fiscal fight came to a head.
"If the government shuts down, it will be the Republicans' responsibility," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said then.
"There's no question that a shutdown is coming, whether we do it today or whether we do it in 20 years," then-Republican Rep. Tim Scott of South Carolina said at the time, drawing attention to an increase in government spending.
A last-minute deal -- literally last-minute -- was reached to keep the government open with a short-term spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, until September.
Through the standoff, Republicans won a $38.5 billion reduction in government spending, restricted access to abortions and an extension of the school voucher program in Washington, D.C., and a vote in the Senate to delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The deal effectively started the clock until the next crisis.
August 2011: Ditching on debt ...
"Default would cause a financial crisis potentially more severe than the crisis from which we are only now starting to recover," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a letter to Congress in 2011, warning lawmakers of the consequences of hitting the debt ceiling.
During that battle, Republicans demanded spending cuts in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling. Another 11th-hour deal averted default, but the U.S. credit rating was downgraded anyway.
The agreement only temporarily shelved the debt ceiling debate, however. And it set the stage for a much larger fight down the road. While it cut more than $900 billion from the budget over 10 years, it also put into place the framework for forced, across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester. Congress would have just more than a year to figure out a way to cut and additional $1 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade or the automatic spending cuts on both defense and domestic programs would go into place.
September 2011: Kicking the can ...
Yep, just one month later, another battle over spending nearly led to a government shutdown -- the third such battle of 2011.
Two years ago, White House spokesman Jay Carney said something eerily familiar: "The fever hasn't broken," he told reporters, referring to budget battles in Congress that threatened a government shutdown. This time the September 2011 threats revolved around the amount of disaster relief funding.
While Democrats said Republicans were "holding hostage" aid to Americans hit by natural disasters, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers said Democrats have chosen "to engage in a political stare-down match that will bring us one step closer to a government shutdown."
Mild by comparison to the previous two fights as it ended days before the deadline, Congress reached an agreement that reduced the amount of disaster relief for states.
December 2012: Walking the edge of the fiscal cliff
Crisis, debt limit, tax increases, budget cuts, default: common words written (again) and spoken (again) in Washington this past holiday season.
"Hopefully there is still time for an agreement of some kind that saves the taxpayers from a wholly preventable economic crisis," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in the lead-up to that fiscal showdown.
There's that word again. Crisis. Another pending economic crisis.