But Nancy Pelosi has a plan to call his bluff.
By letting Trump continue his reckless government shutdown, Republicans in the Senate are also keeping millions of Americans from receiving their tax refunds — but Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives aren't going to let them get away with it so easily.
From late January to early March of 2018, the IRS gave 48.5 million households more than $147 billion in tax refunds, according to the Washington Post. This year, however, Trump is holding those refunds hostage unless he gets $5 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is refusing to let the Senate vote on any bill to reopen the government unless Trump agrees to sign it first. By doing this, McConnell is keeping millions of Americans from getting their hard-earned refunds in a timely manner.
But now Pelosi and House Democrats have a plan to call McConnell's bluff.
When the House reconvenes this week, Democrats will pass individual bills in the House to reopen parts of the government — starting with the Treasury Department, which houses the IRS — that have nothing to do with immigration or Trump's border wall, but that are crucial to support working families.
What's more, the Senate passed these same bills almost unanimously in August. If McConnell refuses to vote on them again now, he'll have a hard time explaining why.
"Unless Congress acts, the American people will not receive their tax refunds, families will lose food stamps, homebuyers seeking mortgages will remain in limbo, and our National Parks will continue to accumulate garbage and waste," the new chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Nita Lowey (D-NY), said in a statement. "These bills will stop this chaos, get many federal employees back on the job, and ensure that key parts of the government are working for the American people."
By passing individual funding bills, Democrats are proving that their party is committed to a functioning federal government. They're also forcing Republicans to make a choice: Kowtow to Trump, or give American families the tax refunds they deserve.
The Trump shutdown is already disastrous for the country.
An estimated 800,000 federal workers are not receiving their first paycheck following the holiday season. Business and tourists are furious that some of the world's premiere tourist attractions are being forced to shut their doors. And several national parks are becoming health hazards as human waste and garbage litter formerly pristine landscapes.
The new Democratic majority in the House is trying to reopen the government, but an obstructionist Trump and complicit McConnell refuse to put the interests of the country ahead of their own short-sighted political aims.
Now that his lackey Paul Ryan is no longer in control of the House, however, Trump has to face at least one branch of Congress that will put the well-being of families and workers above his own petulant whims.
UPDATE: A Trump administration official claimed Monday afternoon that tax refunds will still go out. However, lawyers for the House Ways and Means committee say that might not be legal. To date, the Treasury Department has not commented.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.