Mitch McConnell Has The Clearest Shot At Ending The Government Shutdown…
We’ve been thinking about the speech the Majority Leader gave on the floor of the Senate this week, and how he tried to shift the blame for the shutdown onto Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, categorizing her actions this way: “So what’s happening here is that federal workers are paying for this Far-Left ideological crusade”. And Republican Senators who just a couple of weeks ago passed a budget without a wall, are now going around calling Trump’s “request” for wall funding perfectly “reasonable”.
But Trump’s is not a “request”. It’s a demand. And we ask again: if Trump’s “request” for wall funding is so reasonable, or even if you think it’s essential, why didn’t Republicans pass it during the last 2 years when they controlled both the House and Senate and they easily could’ve done so? Why is it happening now unless a huge initial showdown with the newly Democratic House is part of the plan?
Let’s not forget, just very recently it was McConnell who first got that budget resolution passed, which would’ve keep the government funded, without the wall. It flew through the Senate. Then Trump changed his mind; decided he wouldn’t sign, and the still-Republican held House threw in the towel. When Democrats took over the House in January, one of the first things Pelosi did was pass almost exactly the same budget McConnell had passed in the Senate. So all the Senate then had to do — and still could do — is pass something they’d already passed.
Then it would’ve landed on Trump’s desk, where he would’ve been forced to veto ending the shutdown in full view of the American public.
Would he have done that? The first answer that comes to mind is yes. The President is completely impetuous and reckless. At the same time, he’s very conscious of how he plays to the public. And with his poll numbers slumping since the shutdown began (even in his beloved Rasmussen poll), and growing public support for reopening the government (even among a lot of people who support the wall), that’d put a lot of pressure on the President not to take such an incendiary and observable action.
If he did veto, it’d go back to the House and Senate for a potential veto override, which requires 2/3rd of both the House and Senate, meaning the House might be able to do it, but the Senate probably wouldn’t. So at that point it does become a real mess, and probably gives Pelosi the upper hand.
So at this point we contend it’s entirely McConnell’s fault there’s no movement on the matter. Because only he can get a bill onto Trump’s desk to challenge the President to reopen the government, and he’s refusing to do so.
Yes it is a political risk. So is hundreds of thousands of workers doing their jobs for free right now, or not working and not getting paid at all. For the sake of the country, it seems worth at least putting a piece of paper on the President’s desk that he’ll have to put a giant “no” on for this debacle to continue.
And getting back to McConnell’s speech (and comments by other leading Republicans in recent days), the issue is no longer at all about whether Trump’s wall demand is reasonable. It’s whether the President should be allowed to throw a fit and shut down the government over anything Congress won’t immediately give him. Apparently, McConnell thinks the answer is yes, as he’s now come out and shown his deference to the President after staying very quiet on the sidelines for several weeks.
As we laid out in a recent column, Trump might’ve been able to get at least some of his wall built fairly easily using different tactics. Most Americans are convinced there is a security threat at the Southern Border. If he had come at it with the approach that he wanted to beef up staff and the quality of surveillance equipment both at ports of entry and along the border, he might’ve gotten good bipartisan support. So much so that they might’ve even thrown in some money for more barriers.
And as we mentioned months ago, there was an offer on the table from Democrats to exchange a big chunk of wall funding — much more than the President’s asking for now — for letting children of undocumented immigrants covered under DACA stay in this country and gain a path to citizenship. At the time, the White House denied such a deal ever existed. But Trump just recently confirmed that it did in a Tweet.
Yes, it’s on Trump. But right now it’s mainly on McConnell, because he’s the only one who’s got the goods to challenge the President’s childish tactics, with any chance of pressuring an outcome that gets the government reopened quickly, and he won’t. Instead, he’s acting as the President’s human shield.