By the time you read this the government shutdown should be over. That is a good thing. I am skeptical as to what it accomplished. Let’s explore.
Early Thursday afternoon the Senate effectively ended the shutdown with an 81-18 vote. At this writing all other legislative and executive actions should be a foregone conclusion. Even as dysfunctional as this Congress and White House are it is close to impossible for them to mess this one up.
What did the Democrats get in exchange for taking the stand and shutting down the government? In the final analysis they received a bunch of qualified promises from less than credible people.
Republicans will tout the fact that CHIPs was extended by six years in this deal. The reality is that CHIPs funding should have been extended back in September and it was only the “maneuvering” of Mitch McConnell that kept it an open issue so that he could use it as a bargaining chip (no pun intended). I’ve never been a teacher, but I wouldn’t honor a student who handed in an assignment that was due in September the following January.
During the brief shutdown the GOP blamed the Democrats and used the troops. This reminded me of the manufactured NFL take a knee controversy which had absolutely nothing to do with the military. At approximately 1:30 am Saturday morning I was one of the few people still watching the Senate on CSPAN when most American thought it was all over because of the CR cloture vote. Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill asked unanimous consent for a resolution paying the military including death benefits during the shutdown. McConnell objected killing the motion and in the process debunking the “troops” claim fully knowing that his forces (and he himself for that matter) could still use it because few Americans would know the truth.
Next Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson took the floor and asked unanimous consent for a clean one day CR. McConnell objected. Then Montana Democrat Jon Tester asked unanimous consent for a clean three day CR. Again, McConnell objected. If not for the Republican Senate Majority Leader the government would never have had to shut down and our military would never have had to worry about the timeliness of their pay.
Now you ask me to trust the word of Mitch McConnell.
Assuming the Senate does take up some clean bills on things like DACA and actually passes them. Next we have the House to deal with. As Speaker, Paul Ryan can put any bill on the floor basically any time he wants to. That is the problem. Ryan still operates under a version of the Hastert Rule. The original rule named after a former Republican Speaker and pedophile, stated that the Speaker would only send bills to the House floor that had the support of the majority of the majority. In the post-Tea Party era that has come to mean that the only bills advanced to the floor are those that can pass on Republican votes alone effectively giving the small Tea Party contingent veto power. I guess that is what you have to do when your leadership is unskilled and your majority is really a coalition. As of this writing to my knowledge there are no guarantees in the House and would you really believe Ryan anyway?
If somehow legislation makes it to Trump’s desk do you trust “President” Stephen Miller to allow him to sign it? I certainly don’t trust the serial liar Trump and that goes multiple for “President” Miller. The minority of American voters actually voted for Trump but nobody voted for Miller. Miller is the guy that Steve Bannon called his typist.
The Democrats were winning the war of public opinion when they caved. That might not have lasted for long because by about a 2:1 margin Americans wanted the shutdown ended more than they wanted DACA resolved. The Democrats still had a couple of chokepoints against the Republicans over the next few days. Wednesday the 24th is the day Trump is slated to leave for Davos. Trump made the error of saying he would stay in Washington until the crisis was resolved. (I guess to make phone calls from an empty desk with a hat on.) Trump desperately wants to be seen as accepted at Davos. The State of the Union is slated for January 30th. (Fact checkers should be pulling all-nighters.) I don’t think Trump wanted to be making that speech with the federal government shutdown.
What happens when we reach February 8th and there is no legislation resolving DACA? Will the Democrats shut down the government again? If so how seriously will it be taken after their quick caving for a bunch of promises just three weeks prior?
Both parties were too interested in which hashtag, Trump Shutdown or Schumer Shutdown, got more play. In the short run the shutdown could have been a loser for the Democrats, but probably not. In the long run if it produced DACA legislation it was a huge winner. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 has a lasting effect in American politics to this day. Part of that effect is that the African-American vote goes to the Democrats by a 9:1 margin or better. DACA could do the same thing for the Democrats if they are perceived as the people who made it happen. Obama opened the door; the Democrats he “left behind” simply have to close the deal. Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic in American and having them vote Democratic by a 9:1 margin will win a lot of races for decades to come. Like the civil right legislation of the ‘60’s protecting the dreamers is simply the correct thing morally!
I sincerely hope I am proven to be wrong, but I’m very skeptical that caving on the shutdown this soon will produce any positive laws.
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