Mitch McConnell and most of his fellow Senate Republicans have been cowed by Trump's ransom demands.
The Trump shutdown has now dragged on for 31 days, yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) still hasn't bothered to schedule even one vote to reopen the government. And a new Washington Post story exposes one reason why: Cowardly Republicans are too afraid of Trump to do their basic constitutional duties.
Trump still insists that he will refuse to sign a bill reopening the federal government unless it contains the $5.7 billion ransom he's demanding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Just a month ago, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would fund the federal government without paying Trump's ransom. Now, however, the Post reports that most Senate Republicans who voted for that bill "have all but surrendered" to Trump's will, and are too scared of Trump to even consider doing the same thing again.
The Post asked Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of the few Senate Republicans still willing to consider funding the government without the wall, if she thought her colleagues who disagreed with her were afraid to cross Trump. "I think some are, absolutely," Murkowski said.
As majority leader, much of the blame for this cowardice falls on McConnell's shoulders.
If he cared to, McConnell could at least put pressure on Trump to end the shutdown by letting the Senate pass a bill reopening the government. McConnell could allow the Senate to vote on one of the many bills passed by House Democrats to end the shutdown, some of which are identical to the bill the Senate already passed.
As newspapers around the country have noted, the Senate even could — and should — override a potential Trump veto and reopen the government.
The framers of the Constitution created Congress as a co-equal branch of government. There is nothing stopping McConnell and his Senate colleagues from passing a bill to end the Trump shutdown, other than their own cowardice.
Due to the shutdown, 800,000 federal workers are not receiving their paychecks, including some members of the military. FBI agents say Trump is endangering national security, airline pilots say air travel is less safe, and most of the nation's food supply is not being inspected. Thousands of people might be unjustly evicted from their homes.
In the end, there are no Republican heroes who will step up and defy Trump. Voters across the country knew this in 2018, which is one reason why Democrats won historic victories and regained control of the House of Representatives.
But with Republicans ceding their constitutional duties to the White House, America remains paralyzed in the midst of a shutdown. Families are worried — but Republicans are more concerned about Trump's wrath than the well-being of their constituents.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.