Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is tired of waiting for President Donald Trump and the Senate Republicans in his corner to emerge from their partisan politics hideout and reopen the federal government. This week while speaking to reporters, he explained that he hasn’t even heard from the president since he stormed out of a meeting he was at last week with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), adding of Trump’s comrades:
‘Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans are hiding in the shadows as if they have some kind of aversion to doing their job when it involves even the slightest break with the president. Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans seem more concerned with not offending Donald Trump than with helping American families.’
Senate Republicans as led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have consistently refused to break with the president over his insistence on $5 billion for a border wall blocking off Mexico before any more funding for any other parts of the government. The Democrat majority House has passed half a dozen spending bills and counting at this point, including four that are essentially reboots of previously Senate committee approved legislation, but McConnell has refused to bring any of them up for a floor vote in the Senate without confirmation that the president will actually sign one. If both chambers of Congress confronted the president with approved spending legislation, there might be some movement — but thanks to McConnell, that hasn’t happened.
He hasn’t decided to join the fight to reopen the government even as the negative effects pile up. This week for the first time, the U.S. Coast Guard found themselves without pay for their services, marking the first time in American history that a U.S. Armed Force has gone unpaid.
They’re not alone. Around 800,000 government workers are currently either working without pay or at home. The affected agencies and departments range from the Department of the Interior to Housing and Urban Development. Over at the Agriculture Department, underlining just how massive the looming potential ramifications are, there’s only funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — otherwise known as food stamps — through the end of February. Millions of Americans rely on that program for basic sustenance.
The effects of the shutdown extend well beyond that point and could balloon into a recession, some have warned. Simply considering the implications of the sudden unemployment of hundreds of thousands of Americans should make the scope of impact clear.
Still, McConnell has preferred to hide in the shadows, dismissing efforts at voting on funding legislation as “show votes” and insisting the only path forward is direct negotiations between the president and Congressional Democrats.
Meanwhile, Trump remains as firmly committed to his political stance as ever. Having previously insisted he’s willing to have the shutdown extend for months or even years, he wrongfully claimed just this Tuesday that “[i]t is becoming more and more obvious that the Radical Democrats are a Party of open borders and crime,” making little relief from the shutdown in sight.
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