The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives has done its job and passed the necessary bills to keep the government running. The government is not open because the Republican-controlled Senate has not passed those bills because Mitch McConnell (and Chuck Schumer) isn’t letting them come up for a vote. Per The Hill:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday blocked two House-passed funding bills that would reopen the federal government.
Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), surrounded by roughly two dozen of their Senate Democratic colleagues, tried to get consent to bring up a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Feb. 8, as well as a separate package that would fund the remaining agencies without current-year appropriations through Sept. 30.
This is Mitch’s show. He’s the majority leader. The Senate passed a continuing resolution 100-0 last week that McConnell could easily put on the floor right now to reopen the government, but he won’t do it. Chuck Schumer is complicit in this, as McConnell said “The last thing we need to do right now is trade pointless — absolutely pointless — show votes back and forth across the aisle,” and that he and Schumer made an “explicit commitment” to not bring votes to the floor that could be pointless political demonstrations.
But this shutdown is a pointless political demonstration. Trump didn’t try to cash in his signature campaign promise until after he lost half of congress. The Republican Party is shutting down the government in order to indulge a temper tantrum being thrown by Dear Leader. Chuck Schumer could pin them into a corner by forcing them to vote against bills that could reopen the government—or they could vote for it and face the wrath of a Trump veto. Either way, the Republicans should be paying a political cost for this government shutdown under a Republican president and a Republican-controlled congress.
Mitch McConnell is blocking bills from entering the floor in order to protect President Trump and to limit intra-party fights. Chuck Schumer is going along with not forcing “show votes” on bills that could reopen the government because…?
(he’s really really really really really really really really really bad at his job)
This “government shutdown” is really more of a safety net shutdown. Republicans are closing the government because they are stuck in a dynamic where Trump is more popular than each and every one of them, so crossing Trump means offending your base, and also because it accomplishes more of their ideological priorities than they could ever hope to achieve through legislation. Food stamps and school lunches, essential services, may run out of funding if this shutdown stretches through March, but you can be certain that Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and all the other defense contractors would still be selling weapons to a “closed” government this spring. This is a Republican shutdown that is trying to accomplish Republican priorities, and any Democrat who does not force the Republicans to pay a political price for their unpopular decisions is unfit to lead.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.