Democrats Have The Votes To Stop Yet Another Stopgap Spending Bill…And Trump Helped!

Who Wins/Who Loses If The Government Shuts Down?:

Trump early this morning Tweets (sic):

And the Washington Post points out that’s a preview of what you’ll be hearing a lot of from Republicans should there be a shutdown. Because while the majority of Americans support an extension of DACA protections for undocumented immigrants who have been here since childhood, they do not support DACA as a reason to shut down the government.

Democrats, on the other hand, argue it’s really about fixing a dysfunctional budget process. After all, one of Congress’ basic jobs is making and passing a federal budget, not cutting short-term piecemeal deals. Says Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy: “Republicans control the House, they control the Senate, they control the Presidency. The government stays open if they want it to stay open, and shuts down if they want it to shut down”.

Leading Red State Democrat Jon Tester, who is up for reelection this year, says he’s opposing an extension, but makes a point of saying “I think it’s a bad proposal, I’ll just tell you that, and it has nothing to do with DACA.”


High profile “Red State Democrat” Jon Tester (D) Montana


Some Republicans have hinted they might vote against too, for similar reasons. While some Red State Republicans up for reelection this year, might vote for the extension.

The New York Times has a really terrific piece this morning on precisely where the battle lines are being drawn. Here’s a graphic from that piece:




If Neither Side Gives, The Shut Down Starts At Midnight

It was a shady ploy, but a clever one: with DACA off the table, Paul Ryan thought he could force Democrats to vote for a 4th temporary budget extension by adding funding for a children’s health program called CHIP, that’s fast running out of money.

The idea being if they didn’t vote for it, Republicans could argue Democrats didn’t care about sick kids.

Here’s a little video package from the Washington Post:

Until Trump came along and cut the legs right out from under the House Leader, by Tweeting:

Politico suggesting the President got the idea from Fox & Friends, which discussed the topic extensively. Pretty soon after, the White House came out saying it actually did support Ryan’s short term fix, although it’d prefer a resolution with no conditions. White House Spokesperson Raj Shah also deflecting blame from the President, sayingwe’re, frankly, very frustrated with Congress being unable to do its job“. Who can argue with that?

But Trump’s Tweet reduced the risk to Democrats if they oppose the CHIP-based extension, because the leader of the Republican party just opposed it.

According to Politico, 8 of10 blue state Democratic Senators who voted for the last temporary bill quickly indicated they’d vote against it.

Trump tried on other arguments for size: that Democrats don’t care about the military, or that they’re just upset because his tax cuts are working so well… Watch by clicking on the photo below:


In the background, his Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke ordered to scramble and find a way to keep National Parks open, even if Rangers are furloughed.


Arches National Park, Utah


Meanwhile, the House late last night does pass Ryan’s “CHIP” version of a one-month temporary budget extension (which provides CHIP funding for 6 years, not 30 days as Trump mistakenly asserted in his Tweet).

Even that was slightly in doubt for much of the day as members of the Ultra-right Freedom Caucus threatened to vote against it if their demands for increased military spending and draconian immigration controls weren’t considered. Speaker Ryan said he’d consider them, at a later date…and they came around.

So what happens now? A vote in the Senate sometime early today on the temporary bill that’s already passed in the House. It will almost certainly fail. Then, as the President likes to say, who the hell knows?…

Vox has a pretty good roundup of all the issues and potential outcomes.


Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) NY & Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) KY…The ball’s in their court now…



2 Key Questions:

  1. Can Trump get leaders from both parties into a room today and work out a way to avert a shutdown?
  2. And if they can: Can those leaders trust Trump not to change his mind as soon as they walk out of the room?



Who Said It?

Deals can’t be made when there is no trust.”

(Scroll to bottom of newsletter for answer)



So Exactly What Would Happen If There’s A Shutdown Tonight?


From a political perspective:

• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would keep the Senate in session, according to Politico, and do what he could to embarrass Democrats as much as possible and make them look like the culprits. It’s unclear what would happen in the House, which is supposed to be off next week. Every Member of the House is up for election this year, so Representatives are scheduled to work many fewer days than in non-election years, so they can go home and campaign.

• A bipartisan agreement will almost have to originate in the Senate, because that’s where the Democratic votes are that will be needed to pass a bill. It will then have to work its way backwards through the House.

• But a bipartisan agreement might also lose those Far-right Freedom Caucus votes in the House, so there’s still a delicate balance to consider. Then again, if it gains more than enough Democratic House members, it might not be that difficult.

Except (and we paraphrase Chuck Schumer) “bipartisan” to Trump seems to mean he gets everything he wants, only Democrats also vote for it because they realize he’s always right.

Also, what does he really want?


From a practical perspective, or what’ll be visible to the public:

The Washington Post has the best explanation we’ve seen, with lots of charts and graphs.

A quick summary: active duty military and support staff, VA hospitals, Justice Department, Homeland Security and FAA stay on duty and get paid.

Most everyone else: including employees in the Treasury, Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, Labor Department, and the EPA, get sent home.

During the 2013 shutdown, the Obama Administration deliberately blocked off National Monuments and other highly visible places, to put pressure on Republicans by making them look bad. Trump will try to do exactly the opposite, keeping as many “open space” Monuments as accessible as possible.


From the 2013 shutdown


If and when some type of agreement is reached then everybody has to start working backwards, clearing backlogs of work that piled up for however many days or weeks the government’s been shut. That puts a huge burden on federal employees to deal with a tremendously increased workload, especially as Trump’s aggressively cut headcount in many government offices.



One Outcome That Will Happen For Sure

Trump and others will ramp up pressure to make all votes in the Senate simple majority, as they are in the House. It’s already a frequent theme for the President on Twitter. Right now, 60 Senate votes are generally needed to pass major legislation (although there are limited exceptions, like the “reconciliation” process, which allowed Republicans to pass tax cuts, for instance). And in modern times that’s meant the opposing party almost always has a say in any budget bill.

So far, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says no way he’s going to change that setup just to please the President. Why? Because it would hurt Republicans if Democrats got back into power. Trump who wants to disrupt as much as he possibly can–and now–has no reason to care about that. And lawmakers from both sides have been chipping away at the rule for years: most recently, making Supreme Court approvals simple majority.

We think it’s a good thing to have at least a little balance, and a small price to pay for a truly unique and outstanding form of government–even when the party we support is in power.



On Any Other Day, This Would Be Our Lead:

A bombshell of a story from McClatchy which says the FBI is investigating whether a Russian banker with ties to Putin gave money to the NRA for the purpose of supporting Trump. The person in question is the Deputy Governor of Russia’s Central Bank.

The NRA ran many ads which favored Trump during the 2016 Presidential race.

It’s illegal for foreigners to influence U.S. elections. It’s not illegal for them to support the NRA. So this could be a tricky one to prove even if the facts bear out.



Supreme Court Says North Carolina Does Not Have To Immediately Redraw Congressional Voting Districts

That means current voting districts will most likely stand through the 2018 Congressional elections. Despite the fact that a lower federal court has ruled them unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court has never overturned a voting map on the grounds that it deliberately favors one political party over another. But it has chosen to hear two cases this term that deal with just that. The Court has ordered districts redrawn where racial discrimination was proven.



Just Desserts For Chris Christie (Ow!)

WCBS in New York gleefully reports that the former New Jersey Governor, and sometimes Trump confidant, Chris Christie was booted off the VIP security line at Newark Airport, and forced to wait with everybody else. (Except not exactly: he was allowed to use the lane for flight crews).

Newark Airport is operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is also in charge of the George Washington Bridge. Christie famously was implicated, though never charged, in a 2013 scheme to create traffic jams there in order to punish local politicians.

Christie (perhaps borrowing a page from Trump) took to Twitter and completely denied any of the airport incident took places, to which the Port Authority replied:

“Port Authority says Christie showed up at Newark Airport today with NJ State PD detail. They tried to go into the special access area where they have been going for years. A PA cop told him he was no longer allowed to use that access and they escorted him to the regular area.”

The TV station is slyly calling the incident “Gate Gate”.


Former N.J. Governor Chris Christie



Answer To Our “Who Said It” Quiz:

Trump did. Of course, In a Tweet. Earlier this week: