Senate Democrats are willing to put the needs of American families first, shining a spotlight on Mitch McConnell's unconscionable behavior.
Several Democrats say they will grind Senate business to a halt until Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agrees to hold a vote to reopen the government.
"People are suffering," said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) said while announcing his intention block Senate action on anything unrelated to reopening the government. "[L]et's vote to fix it," he added.
The strategy originated with Maryland's Sen. Chris Van Hollen, also a Democrat, who tweeted out the idea over the weekend.
"The Senate should make its first order of business a vote on the House bills to reopen the government," Van Hollen told the Washington Post. "McConnell and Senate Republicans have to stop contracting out their votes to Donald Trump," he added.
Led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a bipartisan majority in the House voted on a series of bills to end the Trump shutdown. But in servile acquiescence to Trump, McConnell has thus far refused to allow the Senate to vote on those bills.
Since then, seven additional Democrats have expressed their support for the idea, including Sens. Booker (D-NJ), Cardin (D-MD), Harris (D-CA), Kaine (D-VA), Merkley (D-OR), Sanders (I-VT), and Warner (D-VA).
According to one Washington Post reporter, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will join the effort as well. Schumer is vowing to vote against a bill authorizing security assistance to Israel, scheduled for a vote on Tuesday, unless McConnell agrees to allow a vote on reopening the government.
The move by these Democrats shines a spotlight on McConnell's deference to Trump. In December, the Republican-controlled Senate unanimously passed a bill to fund the government through mid-February. But after Trump threw a tantrum about not getting funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, House and Senate Republicans have enabled the Trump shutdown of the federal government.
An estimated 800,000 federal workers are going without pay because of McConnell's stance. Pilots are warning that air travel is less safe, and national parks are becoming disgusting health hazards due to excessive human waste everywhere.
And McConnell is feeling pressure from some of his own members as well. Vulnerable Senators, such as Colorado's Cory Gardner and Maine's Susan Collins, face tough re-election battles in 2020. They are hoping to distance themselves from the destructive policies of the Trump-McConnell agenda and have tepidly voiced support to reopen the government.
McConnell has the power to end the Trump shutdown. And Senate Democrats are making sure everyone knows that Republicans like Trump and McConnell are the ones responsible for this disastrous shutdown.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.