Mitch McConnell: Shutdown Hero
It's Day 21 of the Trump Shutdown, and as 800,000 government employees start getting pay stubs showing a big fat zero on them, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has done a brilliant job of doing nothing to reopen the government. Let's all honor his brave stand for a largely metaphorical (but very expensive) WALL by being sure to call this the Trump/McConnell shutdown, because hey, the bastard deserves credit.
Yesterday, McConnell made clear once again he would absolutely not bring to the floor any bill to fund the government that doesn't include over $5 billion in funding for WALL, because after all, Donald Trump won't sign such a thing. Oh, sure, before the shutdown, the Senate did pass a continuing resolution by voice vote (stop saying "unanimously," some of youse including Wonkette editrae) on December 19, and that bill didn't include any funding for WALL, but then Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter told Trump he couldn't sign it and so the government shut down the next weekend.
Thursday, McConnell refused to allow a Senate vote on six House-passed bills that would restore funding for departments that aren't involved in border security, because what's the point of a government shutdown if you're not causing widespread disruption?
McConnell wouldn't stand for such distractions, explaining it's the very worst sort of political game-playing for the House to pass a bill he approved three weeks ago and then ask that it be considered in the Senate, says McConnell, who said yesterday, "political stunts are not going to get us anywhere." Ol' Yertle steadfastly insisted there was simply no point in passing a bill he knew would be vetoed by the president, because this is totally unlike the times McConnell and Senate R's voted to kill Obamacare even though he knew Barack Obama would veto that.
Here is Mitch McConnell explaining why he must stand firm against any Republicans who might want to join Dems in reopening the government:
The last thing we need to do right now is to trade pointless show votes across the aisle [...] We agreed we wouldn't waste the Senate's time on show votes related to government funding until a global agreement was reached that could pass the House, pass the Senate, and which the president would sign. ... That's how you make a law.
How true this is. As everyone knows, there is nothing Congress can do when a president vetoes a bill. But then a little cartoon scroll labeled "Bill" tottered onto the Senate floor, and in a voice that sounded awfully like Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), said, "But Congress can override a presidential veto! Oh, yeah!"
And while there may not yet be the 2/3 majority needed to override a veto in both houses, the very arrival of a bill with a solid majority can be awfully persuasive. Not that McConnell has any interest in preventing government employees from missing payments or having to sell their furniture on Craigslist (lots of new listings this week), because he is, you know, evil and all.
McConnell also blamed Democrats for their "refusal to even come to the table" and negotiate reopening the government, although Democratic leaders were actually sitting at the very table Donald Trump pounded on when he stormed out of a meeting Wednesday, yelling "No, Nancy, NO!" because Dems won't pay for WALL.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-IN YOUR FACE) wasn't having any of McConnell's pretended helplessness and his insistence that the government can't possibly reopen unless Democrats compromise and give Donald Trump exactly what he wants, as sensible negotiators do. On MSNBC, Hirono said,
I think that is one of the lamest excuses I've heard from somebody who has the power to bring the House-passed bills to keep the government open, and who has had no reluctance to use those powers to force a vote on eliminating the Affordable Care Act for millions of people [...]
He had no problems using his power to prevent Merrick Garland from even being considered [...] And yet he will say I have no power to bring these bills to the floor. That is so lame, and that is the excuse he gave.
After passing a bill that would ensure back pay for federal workers (but not for low-paid contract workers, because tough shit, private sector efficiency!) whenever the government reopens, the Senate voted to adjourn, but not before Virginia's Tim Kaine made a stink about it:
On the Senate floor, Kaine also formally objected, but ultimately, no more votes were scheduled until next week and senators started heading home where they can "help" constituents affected by the shutdown. Joe Manchin said he was planning to visit furloughed government workers and some food banks in West Virginia to try to "give them some reassurances we're doing everything we can. I'm ready to vote."
Good luck with that. So far, McConnell seems happy to watch the chaos of the Trump/McConnell shutdown and dream of future rightwing judges.
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