Let’s Break Down What Happened When The Senate Voted On Dueling Bills To Reopen The Government

Neither passed, which was expected. But some interesting—maybe even surprising—storylines emerged…

More Republicans voted for the Democrats’ plan that didn’t include Trump’s wall, than Democrats voted for Trump’s plan that included $5.7-billion in wall funding.

Technically, Senators were just voting to proceed to a vote on the bills. And 60 votes are needed for that to happen.

The final tallies?

Democrats’ plan: 52-44.

Trump’s plan: 50-47.

Two big caveats here:

  1. Just because a Senator votes to have a vote on a bill, doesn’t mean they will actually vote for or against it. The most famous recent example is Senator John McCain voting to end debate on a Republican bill to kill Obamacare, but then voting “thumbs down” on the bill.
  2. And if a Senator already knows a bill they’re voting on won’t pass, they might vote differently than if it’s really close.

Still, 6 Republican Senators voted for the Democrats’ plan to reopen the government. In fact, all of them voted for both plans. They are: Lamar Alexander (TN), Susan Collins (ME), Cory Gardner (CO), Johnny Isakson (GA), Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Mitt Romney (UT).

Only 1 Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted for Trump’s bill. And 2 Republican Senators: Mike Lee of Utah, and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, voted against it, presumably—at least in Cotton’s case—because the President was offering an extension of DACA protections for 3 years, something far-right politicians view as tantamount to amnesty for illegal aliens.

Upshot? Trump’s attempt to force his wall on the Senate in order to reopen the government cost him two Republicans votes, in exchange for only one vote from a Democrat. (He might’ve gotten another: Doug Jones, from Alabama, had Trump’s bill not contained the sneaky changes to asylum law we talked about earlier this week.)

The Democrats’ plan, which is essentially a bill that Republicans already passed in the Senate at the end of last year, picked up support from 6 Republican Senators, and only one Democrat didn’t stick with them.

What’s next? More politicians seem to be talking to each other now than has been the case for a while. Trump says he would support a “reasonable agreement”. That’s shortly after the White House said they wouldn’t look at anything that didn’t include a pro-rated “downpayment on the wall“. And Trump earlier Tweeted: “We will not Cave!

Here’s a good chart from the Washington Post (click on it for related story):

Trump’s post game analysis?

“One of the ideas suggested is they open it, they pay a sort of a pro-rated down payment for the wall, which I think people will agree that you need, you need the wall. In fact, I see a lot of the Democrats are all–almost all of them–are breaking, saying ‘walls are good, walls are good’. Big difference from what you had two of three weeks ago.”

In what imaginary Universe?

(In case you think we’re making all that up, here’s the clip):

How Long Before Trump Ousts Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross?

Another of Trump’s “best people” stepped into it by making dunderheaded comments about how he doesn’t “quite understand” why some people impacted by the federal government shutdown have started turning up at food banks.

Ross, appearing on CNBC, suggesting it should be easy for anyone owed money by the federal government to get a loan instead, since their back pay is guaranteed once the shutdown is over. Here’s a clip (click on the photo to watch).

Now on the face of it, that may not sound like an outrageously unreasonable suggestion, but here are a few of many reasons why it is:

  • While banks and credit unions are working in some cases with federal employees to keep fees down, interest rates on personal loans are typically quite high. And families may not want to take on the risk of a high interest loan even if they should be able to pay most of it back as soon as the shutdown is over. Because if they don’t, they’re stuck.
  • Just because you are a federal worker doesn’t mean you have good credit. Bad credit; still might not get a loan. Perhaps Ross doesn’t fully understand this because as a billionaire investor, he can borrow money at wholesale rates whenever he wants.
  • Even if you have good credit, there’s no guarantee banks will give you a loan; for instance, if they’re worried you have credit cards you might not be able to pay off.
  • And many people hit by the shutdown are contractors who do not work directly for the government. And they won’t be getting back pay for work they couldn’t do because the government was closed.

And even when Ross tried to be sympathetic, he still sounded unbelievably out-of-touch, saying at one point:

“Put it in perspective, you’re talking about 800,000 workers, and while I feel sorry for the individuals that have hardship cases, 800,000 workers, if they never got their pay, which is not the case, they will eventually get it, but if they never got it, you’re talking about a third of a percent on our GDP,” he said. “So, it’s not like it’s a gigantic number overall.”

Except it’s about people, not numbers right now. You got it backwards.

Trump obviously has got other things on his mind and Ross has stuck around despite blunder after blunder and apparently being on the outs with Trump for months. Ross couldn’t even lie properly about why he decided to insert a citizenship question into the next census, and so it’s been blocked, leaving Trump with a big mess he didn’t want. Ross also has been in the habit of forgetting to mention huge investments in financial disclosure forms. And in Bob Woodward’s book, Trump is quoted saying to Ross: “I don’t trust you. I don’t want you doing any more negotiations…. You’re past your prime”. And that seems to be true: he hasn’t been on the front lines of the trade deal with Canada and Mexico, or trade negotiations with China. His role seems to have been relegated to “the guy who appears on CNBC” (remember him picking up a Campbell’s Soup can to defend Trump’s steel tariffs?) And he can’t even get that right! How much patience can the President possibly have?

We got a hint of an answer later in the day, when Trump compounded the issue by appearing to suggest grocery stores will “work with” people having temporary financial difficulties. Here’s that clip (again, click on the photo to watch):

And while Trump denied any knowledge of Ross’ comments, he defended the Commerce Secretary saying “he’s done a great job, I will tell you that”. And we all know what that means