Vote On Whether To Reopen The Government Scheduled Today At High Noon
That vote, originally intended for last night, postponed because of the emergence of some small signs of compromise after a bipartisan group of Senators spent the weekend trying to work things out.
And Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said if Senators reopen the government by passing another temporary budget bill, he intends to take up immigration legislation anyway, even if an agreement isn’t reached by February 8th, when that stopgap bill runs out.
Now, there are some risks to going along with this: the House might not go along with it. The President might not sign the legislation. But McConnell is completely right when he says the shutdown is over issues both sides actually agree upon. So it’s also not a bad way out right now with the alternative being both sides probably having to commit to a lengthy shutdown.
Not that Members of Congress aren’t preparing for that too. Juxtaposed with bipartisan efforts to get things going again, a lot of blame passed around, partly to see what would stick and to whom. Most heinously: a Willie Horton-esque TV ad produced by the Trump reelection campaign accusing Democratic leaders of being complicit in the murders of Americans by illegal immigrants.
And both sides seem to be scoring in the blame game:
- Democrats are holding together by and large and showing some backbone. A show of toughness from that gang is huge.
- Republicans very cleverly teed up some issues to make Democrats look bad: holding off for months on funding a children’s health program so they could unleash it at just the right moment.
And that’s where the fight has moved right now. Trump’s stayed out of it, apparently reluctantly, his staffers hoping the bickering will distract from the fact that it’s all on him.
The New York Times has a chart on which cabinet departments will be most directly impacted by the shutdown. And interestingly, the most severe temporary cutbacks will occur in departments Trump is trying to cut back permanently anyway.
Editorial: “Like Negotiating With Jello”
That’s probably the best line of the weekend, coming from Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, describing his interaction with Trump leading up to the shutdown.
And with all the noise and BS floating around: let’s not lose sight of the fact that the shutdown itself was caused by one, and only one thing: Trump’s inability to cut a deal. Or more accurately, his inability to agree to something and then stick with it.
There was a deal. There were several deals. Democrats were ready to give Trump almost everything he wanted—including funding for his wall—in exchange for something else he said he wanted: DACA. (Or as Schumer generously described it “something he wanted for something we both wanted”).
The White House says that’s not true, but why would Schumer be making it up? It’s not exactly something that would’ve increased his popularity among Democrats. Here he is, detailing his meeting with Trump. Click on the photo below to see it:
So the President agrees to trading what he wants for something he also wants, and then his Ultra-right friends rush in and tell him it’s not enough.
But Senator Cotton doesn’t have to vote in favor for a bipartisan agreement to pass. Senator Perdue doesn’t have to vote in favor. The entire Freedom Caucus doesn’t have to vote in favor. Not if they’ve got a whole mess of Democrats. Not to mention Stephen Miller and John Kelly don’t get a vote.
Trump could’ve said “go” and enough Republicans and enough Democrats would’ve fallen in line, just like that. But instead he agrees, consults, and then moves the goalposts.
So what’s Trump afraid of? He’s acting like a fearful little man, not a leader.
To prove Trump is a leader, the White House released a handful of photos of the President “working” through the shutdown, which themselves became a distraction and subject of ridicule:
Don’t waste your time with what Trump said during Obama’s shutdown (as CNN and MSNBC seemed excited about doing this weekend). Look at what Trump said less than two weeks ago:
- “I’ll take the heat off both the Democrats and the Republicans“.
- “Even if [bipartisan negotiators] come to me with things I’m not in love with, I’m going to do it, because I respect them.“
- “Deals can’t get made when there is no trust!“.
The View From Trump’s Brain
White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short made a very interesting comment: “[Democrats] look back and say, the largest tax cut in history; they say, you repealed the individual mandate. They look at the regulatory rollback. They look at what’s happened with $7 trillion added to the stock markets. They see more circuit court judges ever confirmed in one year. They see a new Supreme Court justice confirmed….and their reaction is, ‘Because we can’t beat them, what we’re going to do is we’re going to shut down the government.'”
If that reflects what Trump is thinking, then to Trump, it’s all about Trump. But in a totally different way than we meant in the editorial above.
So, Democrats aren’t shutting down the government for any other reason but they don’t want Trump to enjoy his anniversary in office. You know he really wanted to go to that $50,000 a plate dinner at Mar-a-Lago, you know he wanted to take yet another one of his many victory laps…
Oh, and also brag about his big tax cut victory. And Gorsuch. And the stock market.
And if the shutdown continues, he might not get to go to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week, and we all know how much he digs hanging out with world leaders and the global financial elite. Really.
And Democrats just don’t want to let him…
It’s interesting, and explains a lot about why so much of what Trump does is designed to punish people who don’t agree with him. Because seems like he sees everybody else’s motives as attempts to punish him.
The “Nuclear Option”
We’ve been warning you about this for a week: the shutdown, especially if Republicans got 50 votes against it (which they did), was bound to reignite Trump’s fervor for making all votes in the Senate simple majority, like they are in the House. Right now, for most legislation 60 votes are needed in the Senate.
So far, Mitch McConnell is against it, primarily because someday Democrats might retake the Senate. It’s also easy to understand why the President doesn’t care about that: he just wants to run rampant right now.
Plus that Senate rule is a good thing. Especially with the country split as it is now, it’s the only thing that gives the minority party a little bit of a voice in major legislation.
Plus let’s remember the reason it’s called the “nuclear option” is that once it happens, there’s no taking it back, no repairing it. Since we seem to be considering a real “nuclear option” in North Korea, which we believe we could withstand and survive, maybe we should stop calling this that.
States Rally To Keep National Monuments Open
Some states scrambled to put up their own cash to keep various National Monuments and Parks open. The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor reopens today, as does the Grand Canyon. The Governor of New York justifying the expense saying it’ll pay for itself many time over in tourist dollars.
Thousands Join Hundreds Of Women’s Marches
The one year anniversary of Trump’s Presidency also marks the one year anniversary of the Women’s March, and events took place all weekend all around the country. Here’s a photo from DC:
Trump, who was highly critical of the march last time around, this time attempted to co-opt it:
Which would’ve been a clever attempt at re-framing, under different circumstances.
The events culminated with a “power to the polls” rally in Las Vegas, Nevada. One of the states where Democrats are hoping to flip a Senate seat.