Democrats Pass Bills To Reopen Government, But They Won’t Go Anywhere
In a late first-day session, Congress passed a series of bills designed to reopen most of the government, but they're already 'dead on arrival' in the Senate.
The new Democratic-controlled House ended its first day by passing a set of bills designed to reopen the government, but they aren’t likely to go anywhere:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday used her first day in power to attempt to end a government shutdown that’s lurching into its third week while denying any new money for President Donald Trump’s border wall.
Just before 10 p.m., the Democrat-controlled House voted to fully fund nearly all of the government agencies that have been shuttered since Dec. 22. The House also voted to temporarily fund the Department of Homeland Security.
But the White House and GOP leaders have made clear that the Democrats’ efforts won’t reopen the government or end the standoff over more money for the president’s border wall.
“Open up government, let’s have an adult conversation about how we protect our borders,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday evening before the House voted.
A government shutdown has never in recent history dragged on from one Congress to another, but like so many things under Trump’s presidency this conflict is one without precedent.
On Friday, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and congressional GOP leaders will attend another meeting at the White House to see if they can work with the president to get out of the impasse, which sharpened after an unsuccessful bipartisan meeting with the president earlier this week. And lawmakers said urgency is beginning to build now that the shutdown stands to run into a third week over the weekend.
“As time goes on there’s going to be more and more pressure that builds from the public,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), who will attend the Friday meeting along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) . “The American people, especially in a new Congress, expect us to do our work. And they will start to voice their displeasure.”
The vast majority of the House’s funding package comes directly from the Senate’s own bills. But McConnell says he won’t take up the proposals — or anything at all without Trump’s approval.
On Thursday afternoon the White House officially issued a veto threat, and the president also held an event with the National Border Patrol Council at the White House, during which the president said he’s “never had so much support as I’ve [had] in the last week over my stance for border security.”
That’s true at least as far as Senate GOP leaders are concerned. After swearing in new senators that brought his majority to 53 seats, McConnell attacked Pelosi’s plans to reopen the government and stiff Trump’s wall funding as “political theater, not productive lawmaking.”
“The Senate will not take up any proposal that does not have a real chance of passing this chamber and getting a presidential signature. So let’s not waste the time. Let’s not get off on the wrong foot,” McConnell said on Thursday. He asserted that House Democrats are “using their platform to produce statements rather than solutions.”
The GOP leader raised the prospect that the shutdown could drag on for “weeks” on Wednesday, and the Senate showed no urgency on Thursday as the House prepared to pass new funding legislation.
Still, the frustration was palpable among rank-and-file members of both parties. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who wrote one of the spending bills House Democrats voted on, said in an interview she’d like to see the president endorse at least part of the plan to reopen the government.
“My goal is to get government reopened as fast as possible. And six of those bills, we’ve got agreements on and so I’d like to see those signed into law,” she said of the non-DHS legislation.
Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado on Thursday also reportedly said a spending bill should pass to reopen the government without additional border wall funding, adding, “I think we should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open. The Senate has done it last Congress, we should do it again today.”
With the congressional leaders already feuding, the sides have at least tentatively agreed to continue talking. But Trump launched a new attack on Democrats on Thursday as the new House majority prepared to be sworn in, blaming the impasse on their political ambitions even though Trump once said he’d be “proud” to take the blame for the shutdown.
“The Shutdown is only because of the 2020 Presidential Election. The Democrats know they can’t win based on all of the achievements of “Trump,” so they are going all out on the desperately needed Wall and Border Security – and Presidential Harassment. For them, strictly politics!” Trump posted on Twitter on Thursday.
As I’ve already noted, the President has already rejected the Democratic plan to reopen the government saying that agreeing to a plan that didn’t fund the border wall would make him “look foolish.” The reality, of course, is that Trump is at least perceptive enough to realize that agreeing to this plan would take away whatever leverage he might have with respect to the wall since it would significantly reduce the scope of the shutdown, which is already limited due to the fact that several branches of the government have already been fully funded through the end of the Fiscal Year, would be limited even further to just the Department of Homeland Security. This would reduce the pressure to get the government reopened and reduce whatever bargaining power the President has left at this point. From a negotiating standpoint, I suppose this makes sense but it also makes the likelihood of any agreement in the near-term even less and less likely. Meanwhile, the shutdown drags on and is now mere days away from surpassing the 2013 shutdown in length, and quickly approaching the 21-day record set by the shutdown that lasted from December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996.
As they did on Wednesday, Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders are scheduled to meet with President Trump in the White House again later this morning, but it’s unclear what exactly that will accomplish. The parties are at loggerheads, and we’re approaching the point where this shutdown is no longer about the border wall per se so much as it is about politics. For Democrats, it would be a serious sign of weakness, and problematic with the base, to be seen as giving in this early in their tenure. For Trump, conceding on the wall would deprive him of one of his biggest talking points and something that has been a central part of his campaign and his Presidency since the day that he entered office. All of this portends a prolonged shutdown that could last well into January.
This is a front, a well scripted and orchestrated performance* and diversion that the established news media gets stoked about. You can be sure that behind the scenes there is negotiating, discussing, giving, taking, swapping, shopping, wheelin’ and dealin’. The various players are experts at this. This has happened before, it will happen again. Does anyone really expect the them to show their hands? Making deals in the smoke filled rooms over cigars and bourbon is the way things work in Washington. That’s how things get done there. Johnson, O’Neil, Humphrey, Wright, Gingrich, and a few others were masters at “the game”. Best speakers of the House: Henry Clay, Sam Rayburn, Frederick Muhlenberg
*Vince McMahon would be proud.
“They’re probably drinking coffee and smoking big cigars” (Johnny Cash)
If Dennison were capable of learning, he’d learn not to make idiot promises on nonsensical policies. And that getting the base fired up on such policies paints you into a corner.
If he were capable of learning.
I keep reading this, but the reality is the longer that the shutdown continues, the more agencies are going to be affected. For example, unless I’m mistaken, the Federal Court system is only funded until mid-January. The last full paycheck for court employees (Judges, Clerks, etc) is next week.
In other words, if this drags on into late January, an entire branch of our government will be unfunded.
Dems don’t have to give. They’ve passed their bill and shown their intent to pay for things that need paying – including the salaries of the people getting screwed over by this shutdown. Trump painted himself and his party into a corner by being the ones to refuse the offer. They can whine about Dems refusing to “compromise” all they want but the truth is more Dems would need to cave at this point then Repubs so it’s literally a waiting game to see how long Senate Republicans can stand.
Trump is used to “negotiation” by bullying or by holding all the power. Now for the first time, he has a piece of the government that doesn’t have to bow to his and his base’s whims. All he can do is inflict hurt and expect the other guy to cry uncle; a foe that can withstand his pettiness is one he can’t touch. Dems need to really get out there and push the message: “we’re offering a fantastic deal so that no American is being cheated out of their paycheck by this petty stunt. The Republicans would rather you starve then give an inch and take the money.”
Possible stupid question here: could Congress pass a law authorizing the payment of salaries to government employees, even furloughed ones, without it also funding the rest of what requires funding?
If they can, I’d love to see Dennison refuse to sign it.
Forget Trump, this puts McConnell on the spot. Expect a lot of ‘are you a co-equal branch or just toadies?’
Two Senators have already said they’d vote for funding without wall money. We need four. As the supposed leader of the anti Trumpers, how many more have to defect before Romney crawls out to “lead” them?
I don’t think it’s prevented or illegal but paradoxically, it’s very ill-advised. See, the whole point of a shutdown is it’s supposed to *suck*. People don’t get paid, things get shut down or not taken care of, services go to hell, etc. It’s supposed to hurt and hurt across the board so that this state of being doesn’t persist. Shutdowns only really began to be a standard political weapon for Repubs when certain key groups were isolated from feeling the punch: the military, SS and “essential” personnel in particular. Once those groups no longer had a reason to riot when the money stops flowing, it’s become a game of “who can we screw to make the other guy look bad while not losing our own votes”. This is all about acceptable targets for political kicking and the Repubs have done a great job of convincing their voters federal workers aren’t real people with bills.
Paying federal workers is great but all it’s doing is shifting the pain again and removing one more reason for the shutdown to end. The lack of funding will still screw over people but they’ll become faceless abstracts that can be safely ignored. The random kid that the school program helps is harder to identify with then the coast guard worker who now can’t afford his kids’ meds.
“Essential” personnel don’t get paid on time either. They work “for free” until their agency gets funded, then they get back pay. If they have money in the bank sufficient to carry them through a period of several missed paychecks, they can handle it, but those at the lower end of the pay scale who are more likely to lack savings or be living paycheck-to-paycheck? They’re fucked.
In full disclosure, my wife is an “essential” part of the Federal Courts system, so its part of the reason why that is front of mind. We are planning accordingly for this. Normally it would be a pain, but one we could live with. Unfortunately, this is also tax season and we just got our town property taxes which are due during the period where we’re most likely going to be living just on my paycheck. Good times.
BTW, the Judiciary is a great example of a branch of government that employs quite a few powerful Republicans and Conservatives (especially in the more conservative circuits and districts). I wonder how they are feeling about the growing possibility of “working for free” for a while.
Despite all claims to be "the adults in the room," the Dems continue to think impressing their progressive base is their only job. The pageantry surrounding Pelosi's return to the speakership yesterday was disgusting. When the government is shutdown? Why were they celebrating?
How would you approach this situation? Especially knowing that the person who controls this process — Trump — has consistently undercut his own negotiating team. Not only did he change his position without warning on signing the continuing spending gap last year, but he undercut the deal that Pence was floating.*
So if what they are doing is so obviously wrong, what should the Democrats be doing?
What is a solution when the person across the negotiating table isn’t negotiating?
* – BTW, this is why McConnell isn’t a help here. He’s indicated he isn’t taking any action until the President clearly communicates what type of compromise he’s willing to make.
For the record, I would actually be fine with giving President Criminal 5 billion dollars in exchange for something like DACA. In the end. But as an initial bargaining position, Pelosi’s “You ain’t getting shit” position is exactly right.
Ok, so the GOP won’t vote for it, and McConnell won’t even bring it up for a vote. all the more reason for the Democrats to pass it in the House, no?
@Kathy: if McConnell won’t allow a vote on something that he passed unanimously two weeks ago, then obviously it’s on him.
I’m on record advising giving Trump a route to save face. Give him the money. Let him call it “the wall.” Let him brag about it.
You know “everything Trump touches dies,” right?
Politically, it would make sense for the Democrats to publicly and loudly suggest fixes, suggest ameliorating measures, and have the GOP reject them out of hand.
Given that Trump’s wall didn’t get funded, nor was there a particularly serious attempt at funding legislation, it is not unreasonable to assume there are few Repub Senators are truly committed to funding the wall and Collins and Gardner are only the tip of the iceberg of Repubs that want to move on.
And what is that route to save face? The full 5 million — because he’s already said that Pence’s deal isn’t enough.
And what do you ask for in return that he will give? Because he’s taken DACA off the table?
James, you’re kinda missing all key the details there. What is too little back to be a worthwhile deal for the Dems?
Could you confirm your position on a couple of questions? Do you believe that a physical wall is the answer to the persistent issues with illegal immigration in the US? Are you saying $5B should be appropriated because a physical wall would present an unbreachable barrier to a significant number of illegal immigrants? Since all reasonable estimates are that $5B would be grossly insufficient to complete this physical wall, are you saying we should accept that eventually much more will need to be appropriated because a physical wall is the right thing to do? Do you support all the public domain property seizure that will be required because a physical wall along the entire border is the right thing to do?
Because, if you believe The Wall is a meaningful, effective solution to illegal immigration for the US, than I could see how giving Trump the funds he’s requested would be the right thing for the Democrats to do. Please be clear about how you see this, because you are entitled to see this however you do.
But, if you don’t believe these things, then be clear that you would advise the Democrats give Trump $5B(!!) toward wrongful spending so he can feel good about himself in the morning.
To begin with, Trump’s face isn’t worth saving. Look at it.
I said Pearce advocates knuckling under and just doing as El Cheeto wants. I’d say i was right in my assessment.
@James Pearce: So giving into an extortionist will convince him to not do it again?
Methinks you haven’t got the handle of what’s going on.
Trump is on CNN right now threatening that the shutdown may last “months or years.” He has everything to lose and everything to gain here, so you should expect for him to dig in.
Democrats, on the other hand, are treating this like a game they’ve already won.
@Scott F.: I think the wall is stupid. Every international airport is a more porous “border.” I think the fixation on illegal immigrants is stupid and borderline racist.
And because I believe that, I do not support this weak, ineffectual, ain’t-stopping-nothing-but-keep-feeling-self-righteous-about-yourselves-anyway strategy that only ensures that Trump is going to build his “wall.”
You dodged the question James — what’s the correct strategy for the Dems — what in your opinion is worth them giving up and what should they get in return?
What does “he has everything to lose and everything to gain” mean? And how, pray tell, do you negotiate with that?
Because you sure act like there is an easy out here and the Dems are doing it all wrong — so you should be able to articulate what “right” looks like if its that easy.
@Kathy: Don’t know, but wouldn’t get out of the Senate–the McConnell “nothing gets debated that the President won’t sign” rule at work in this case.
And right there is how your counter “strategy” is so profoundly incoherent. The only way to ensure the wall isn’t built is to not appropriate funds for its construction. You would write a check for something you see as borderline racist because to do otherwise is “ineffectual.” Because, something, something, Democrats think they’ve won, something…
Not paying for The Wall is the right to do. Full Stop. You’re right that Trump will dig in, but Trump’s not the one getting calls from constituents. Your man, Senator Cory Gardner has already broken ranks and there could be more Republicans who follow his lead. Someone on the Republican side will figure out eventually that the only way out of the corner they painted themselves into will have Trump saving face by vetoing the current bills (so he can say he stood firm) and the veto gets overridden so government re-opens.
@James Pearce: Riddle me this, o great contrarian: Would you happen, then, to be for giving him $10 billion when this whole dance starts again in February, too? Remember, this is still just a “continuing resolution” IIRC.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Yeah, McConnell is shielding Dennison from even having to veto a budget.
They’re going to be giving up some money* in exchange for Trump bragging about a boondoggle that’s going to disappoint his supporters. What more do you want? What more do you expect? Democrats control the House by a mere 36 seats, not really a huge margin, and that’s all they control.
(And I really wish Dems would stop putting us in these no-win situations. Chuck and Nancy will get re-elected no matter how terrible they are. The rest of us are the ones who have to live with the consequences.)
* No one’s really buying the new-found fiscal conservatism, no one. Spend the money.
No, immigration reform is the right thing to do.
“Not paying for the Wall” is the thing the Dems are doing while they avoid doing the right thing.
@James Pearce: “Democrats, on the other hand, are treating this like a game they’ve already won.”
Yes. This is called strategy. You act like you’ve won, and let the other side scramble around explaining that in fact you haven’t yet won at all, and they haven’t really lost. It puts you in a position of strength and your opponent in that of weakness.
Wouldn’t expect you to understand this.
@James Pearce: “Trump is on CNN right now threatening that the shutdown may last “months or years.””
And he was given four or five opportunities to express sympathy for those who were being shut down — and he whiffed every time. Kept saying how they all were behind him and kept telling him to keep them out of work to make America safe.
In another few days the stories of evictions and foreclosures and hungry children are going to start coming out. And you’ll try to spin this as a win for Trump, but every quote from every suffering worker is going to be juxtaposed with Trump saying they wanted him to keep them out of work.
In return for what James? And how much?
I mean you keep saying this is easy and you never seem to answer any questions. Because if Trump gets the 5 billion he asked for, his base isn’t going to be disappointed by that.
Further, you seem to be forgetting that the House Dems were voted into office by a base that, by and large, doesn’t want them to give him any money for a wall.
So you are asking the House Dems to immediately hand their base a major disappointment for what?
Again James, you keep saying they are doing everything wrong, but you’ve yet to articulate any sense of “right” that makes a lick of sense. If this is so easy, and Chuck and Nancy are botching this, you really need to demonstrate what “right” looks like, with actual details.
BTW, can you also unpack your “you don’t negotatiate with Trump.” So then what? You just give him what he wants? How exactly do you then spin that as a win? And at what point do you say no?
I mean, again, for something you seem to keep saying is so simple, your answers seem rather circular and contradictory?
Or is your answer seriously that “The only way to win against Trump is give him everything he wants”?
BTW, TSA people called in sick today at 300% the normal rate. Those who did show up are being asked to work longer shifts (for no immediate pay) to make up the difference.
Things are going to get progressively uglier.
Trump is a gangster. Like…literally a gangster.
Stop thinking you’re going to get anything “in return.”
If you ever see me arguing for a “rely on the base” strategy, punch me in the face. One of the worst modern ideas in politics is that you are elected to serve your base. Take that divisive partisanship back to hell is what I say.
He’s a gangster and you want him to express sympathy?
So then what’s the point of having an opposition party? Or voting Democrat at all (which you claimed to do)? According to your logic, the way to really defeat Trump is to continue to support Republicans who will give him what he wants and therefore he will fail.
Do you understand how elections work? The reason that the Democrats won is because they campaigned on things like not paying for the wall and *more of their base turned out than Trump’s base because of it*. This is key, Republican turn out in this election wasn’t all that depressed, Democrats actually turned out.
So your awesome strategy for them is to immediately renege on a core campaign promise (one that they just won on).
Beyond that, a little bit ago, just up the page, you suggested that the Dems should give Trump whatever he wants because he’ll screw it up and disappoint his base:
So clearly you think keeping supporters happy is a key to winning and disappointing supporters is key to losing. It’s right there, Trump is going to disappoint his supporters and that, in theory, is a win for the Democrats. Or am I reading that wrong?
Because, then you are also saying that Democrats should disappoint their supporters in order to win. Which runs counter to your above argument.
James, please tell me you see the conflicts in your logic. Because it’s all over the place.
@mattbernius: Why are you even bothering? Pearce isn’t here for consistency, he’s here to spread FUD about the Democrats and promote the Trumpist position while pretending he isn’t.
Yes, immigration reform is the right thing to do. Not spending $5B dollars on a “borderline racist” Wall is inseparable from cogent, morally defendable immigration reform. As Senator Merkley (a Democrat) has made clear, that’s the kind of money that gets 650,000 kids into Head Start. You don’t get to pretend $5B is some inconsequential amount of money. It is not.
Horseshit!! I’d try to explain why, but you’re just not worth the effort.
My new tears (years, but that autocorrect was so on the nose I let it stand) resolution had been non-egagement. But honestly there is a part of me that wants to treat everyone as a rational actor… Or rather skip attacking the person and look at the argument and see if I was missing something.
Also I just cannot figure out James. I honestly don’t think he’s a troll… I was running through the archives of OTB and rediscovered the fact he has been with us for years and used to pay under the name “Herb” before the period when a number of is transferred to our actual names. The fact he opted for that transition (or chose a name that looked like he did) I find unique.
(Aside: that trip through the archives reminded me of all the people who used to comment and no longer do on the regs. Folks like Tillman, P.D. Shaw, Manning, and G. A. Phillips… I miss those folks and hope they are doing well… Well maybe not G. A. – I mean miss in that case… Though I hope he sought medical options that helped him.).
Btw, that middle quote should have been James’s comment:
Though this is a great point to ask, where does the bar and and the electorate begin?
No, if Trump could be “defeated” he would have been already. It’s too late for that. His picture will always be next to Obama’s as the 45th president. It’s done. It’s in the books.
Now he can only be managed. Trump will shut the government down for months if he doesn’t get his funding. Be sure of that. He pardoned Joe Arpaio and met with NK and canceled TPP and shrugged off Khashoggi’s murder and all manner of awful things and you think he’s going to cower in fear because some TSA agents aren’t getting paid?
Do you not understand gangsters? When he sat there in the Oval Office and told Chuck Schumer to his face, on live TV, that he would be glad to shut down the government, you should not have thought, “Gotcha!” You should have thought, “Holy shit, he’s going to do it.”
And look…I get the principle. It’s going to really hurt, just like Kavanaugh, just like all the other stuff, to lose on this. But you know, and I know, that “Wall” isn’t going to do shit. $5 billion? (More?) Yeah, it can be spent on other things. But it’s money. Money. Only money. Who gives a shit?
Give him the money. Let him build his fence-wall. Watch it fail. Why are you so afraid of exposing his policies as shams?
<—This. The reason I think Democrats need to disappoint their supporters is that their supporters –some of them, many of them — have lost their damn minds.
If that seems unfair, consider my experiences. It has proven incredibly difficult to even discuss these topics without spittle-flecked Trump rage.
The 2016 election did a number on a lot of people. I’m not the only one who’s struggling to cope with disillusionment. And if you want to figure me out, that’s the word you should focus on.
PS. I can’t remember why I gave up the Herb pseudonym. I grew up a little maybe? (Nowadays, I’d go with the full name: Herb Smoker, but back then…I didn’t think it was appropriate.)
PPS. I miss some of those old cats too, Tillman most of all.
“The worst enemy that the Negro have is this white man that runs around here drooling at the mouth professing to love Negros and calling himself a liberal, and it is following these white liberals that has perpetuated problems that Negros have. If the Negro wasn’t taken, tricked or deceived by the white liberal, then Negros would get together and solve our own problems. I only cite these things to show you that in America, the history of the white liberal has been nothing but a series of trickery designed to make Negros think that the white liberal was going to solve our problems. Our problems will never be solved by the white man.”
@James Pearce: “Trump is a gangster. Like…literally a gangster.”
Sure he is. But for some reason you think the way to deal with a gangster is to cower in fear and give him whatever he wants before he hurts you.
The way to deal with a gangster is to come together as civilized people, enforce our laws, and throw him in jail.
Giving the bad guy everything he wants until he stops hitting you is never the right idea. Because the bad guy will always find something new to demand.
Trump isn’t Al Capone. He’s Pablo Escobar.
You think of yourself as Los Pepes? Of course you don’t. (Chuck and Nancy aren’t Search Bloc either.)
James, I truly believe your debate experiences would be very different if you afforded other people’s viewpoints the same weight that you expect us to give to yours.
I would also point out that it’s incredibly telling that your perception of the world is based on your subjective treatment and opinion, rather than looking at a broader perspective and seriously considering the critique that others have offered of your positions.
Without a doubt, some people have been jerks in responding to you. But a lot of us have taken a lot of time to point out things you might not be considering or gaps in your logic. All that has been returned to us is “you’re wrong.”
BTW, you’ll note that Neil pointed out something very similar elsewhere. And, frankly, Steven Taylor has done the same thing as well. I don’t think any of us count as frothing Trumpsters.
@mattbernius: This is why I think Pearce is either a straight troll or a frothing narcissist. Notice how it’s always “me me ME ME” and never any willingness to look at the other side of the argument?
No wonder he loves Trump. He ADORES Trump, because Trump is who Pearce secretly hopes to be–a rich asshole who never has to think about anything because he’s rich and can buy everyone else off.
Matt, I’m very open to other people’s viewpoints. I seek them out willingly. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to agree with them.
Especially if they’re of this quality:
How much weight should I give to viewpoints like this? Should I dispute it? “No, I’m not.”
Nope, don’t like him really. In fact, kinda mad he’s president. But let me go ahead and give this crap some weighty consideration anyway…
Have you ever heard me say “It’s not about me?” I feel like I have to say that all the time.
I have written literally thousands of words in these threads and it’s not just “you’re wrong.” I flesh out my arguments.
And I get “He ADORES Trump….”