Voters know Trump and Republicans are responsible for the shutdown — and that's a problem for Republicans facing re-election.
Republicans gave Trump the government shutdown he demanded in December, but now some senators facing re-election in 2020 are worrying that keeping the government closed indefinitely is a bad look for them.
In 2018, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) was the GOP's chief point person charged with maintaining a Republican majority in the Senate. More than perhaps any other senator, he is responsible for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) returning as majority leader.
"I think we should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open," Gardner told the Hill, even if it means denying Trump his $5 billion ransom for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The House of Representatives, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, passed just such a measure on Thursday, when Democrats resumed control of the House.
Gardner's pleas have yet to make any difference to McConnell, who steadfastly refuses to even allow the Senate to vote on such a measure.
Gardner's postering is not fooling folks in his home state.
"It's nice to see how weakened Cory Gardner is after his party took a complete shellacking in Colorado in the 2018 election," Ian Silverii, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, said in a statement to Shareblue Media. "Gardner caved into to Speaker Pelosi on her very first day in office, but Colorado voters are not stupid, and they will see right through this ploy to pivot for his 2020 re-election."
Maine's Sen. Susan Collins, who gleefully backed alleged attempted rapist Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, is also worried her party's desire to keep pay from 800,000 federal workers could be a mistake.
"It would be great to have them signed into law because there is not great controversy over them, and at least we'd be getting those workers back to work," Collins told the New York Times, referencing the bills the new House Democratic majority passed to reopen the government.
Collins, a faux-moderate who supported Trump's extreme and unqualified nominees like Kavanaugh and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is one of the Senate's most vulnerable incumbents in 2020. Even though she regularly stands with Trump and McConnell, Collins seems to understand that the Trump shutdown is wildly unpopular with voters. In fact, only 1 in 4 Americans support the idea of shutting the government down over Trump's $5 billion ransom demand for the wall.
In perhaps the most halfhearted attempt to stand up to Trump and McConnell, Iowa's Sen. Joni Ernst told the Times, "I would like to see it resolved soon." Ernst has been one of Trump's most loyal lackeys, going so far as to defend Trump's decision to make troops spend the holidays shoveling horse manure at the U.S.-Mexico border for a political stunt instead of being their families.
In the 2018 midterm elections, Iowans ousted two of the state's three Republican congressmen as part of the nationwide rebuke of Trump's policies. Ernst, the first-term senator who is also up in 2020, might be considering her own vulnerability.
Even one Republican in a deep-red state, West Virginia's Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, is expressing concern. "A shutdown, in my view, is a no-win proposition," Capito told the Times. Capito also faces re-election in 2020, joining the growing ranks of Republican senators urging McConnell to end the shutdown.
But McConnell seems more concerned about politics than doing what is right for the country.
"After two years of trying to advance Mr. Trump’s agenda, Mr. McConnell now sees his primary job as standing in the way of Speaker Nancy Pelosi," reports the Times. So even though the Senate unanimously passed a spending package to avoid a Trump shutdown in December, McConnell now calls the same package passed by Pelosi's new Democratic majority "political posturing."
The extreme McConnell-Trump agenda has even Republican senators running scared, just one week into the new year. That could make it increasingly difficult for McConnell to keep up the unpopular shutdown — especially if members of his own party turn on him.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.