Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to reopen the government for the American people, but Mitch McConnell and Trump are standing in the way.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is refusing to reopen the federal government.
One of the first acts the newly sworn in Democratic Congress took on Thursday was to pass a bill to fund and reopen the federal government, which Trump and his fellow Republicans shut down in December. That's what Nancy Pelosi promised she would do once she became speaker again, and she made good on her promise.
But instead of resuming government operations, reopening museums and national parks, and paying hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers, McConnell is continuing to appease Trump's racist and unproductive demand for $5 billion to build a border wall that Trump insisted, throughout his 2016 campaign, Mexico would pay for. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto made it clear immediately after Trump took office that Mexico would do no such thing.
"The Senate will not take up any proposal that does not have a real chance of passing this chamber and getting a presidential signature," McConnell said in a floor speech Thursday. "Let’s not waste the time."
It's an absurd claim, since the same bill to reopen the government, without money for Trump's pet wall project, already did pass the chamber just a few weeks ago. In fact, the Senate passed that legislation unanimously on a voice vote.
Now McConnell's insisting that bill is a waste of time. And he has been mocked by Democratic senators for his disingenuous change of tone.
But the episode shows just how in thrall he and fellow Senate Republicans are to Trump. That same slavish devotion is what led millions of people to show up at the polls in 2018 and hand control of the House to Democrats.
The blame for the unpopular shutdown has been placed by the public on Republicans and McConnell playing to Trump is unlikely to help their growing image problem.
McConnell isn't alone in attaching himself to Trump's folly. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) told reporters that he saw no "quick resolution" to the funding issue and added, "We might be in for a long haul here." The shutdown, he said, could last for "months and months."
There's no reason for the shutdown to last another day, let alone months. The votes now exist in the House and Senate to fund the government. Even with Trump threatening to veto any such efforts, Congress could override his veto and fund the government anyway.
But McConnell would rather give in to Trump's obsession than do the right thing for the American people. So he's blocking the effort to fund the government, siding instead with an unpopular Trump who is utterly incapable of convincing the public he is in the right.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.