The federal government has been partially shutdown for four full weeks at this point, long flying past a record — and Republicans as led by President Donald Trump still aren’t budging on their very specific demands for any future funding to include provisions for a border wall. This past Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked an effort to bring a previously House-passed bill for a full floor vote to reopen the Department of Homeland Security through February 8 without wall funding.
Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) had sought to force a vote, but McConnell had Oklahoma Republican James Lankford block it on his behalf. Neither Lankford nor McConnell offered any apparent immediate explanation for the move besides the Oklahoman noting that he was acting on behalf of the Majority Leader.
‘If the issue in dispute is border security… then why punish the very people who are providing that safety and security? How does it help promote safety and security to not pay the very border patrol agents charged with protecting the border?’
McConnell has previously asserted that action on House-approved spending legislation in the Senate would amount to nothing but “show votes” as long as Trump continues to refuse to approve anything without over $5 billion for a border wall. To that end, he’s previously blocked Democratic attempts to bring spending legislation to the floor multiple times, including while Trump was visiting the border town McAllen, Texas, in an attempt to stump for his wall.
Democrats have imagined that if both chambers united to bring spending legislation to the White House, there might be some movement and the affected 800,000+ workers could get back to work — and pay. Thanks to McConnell, however, we haven’t been able to have that proposal play out.
Still, Democrats are keeping at it. Kaine is expected to continue his efforts to force a vote by out-willing McConnell and bring House approved funding packages to the floor over and over again in coming days. The Democrat majority House has put forward eight funding bills and counting at this point, offering Republicans options like reopening the government only until February 8, until February 28, and only reopening agencies whose operations have absolutely nothing to do with the border security they’re supposedly so concerned about.
They haven’t budged — but keep blaming Democrats for the shutdown anyway. In just the last couple of days, both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have indicated they hadn’t heard from Trump for a week and counting following him storming out of a meeting the two were present at.
Democrats are showing up for work — and Republicans just aren’t. There’s no way around that fact.
Meanwhile, stories continue to emerge of the hundreds of thousands of federal employees across the United States who can’t take care of basic expenses like rent and mortgage payments and have to turn to services like food banks as the shutdown drags on and on. There are also potentially millions of Americans affected by the absence of the services those workers provide including something as high profile as food stamps, which will run of funding at the end of February unless something is done.
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