The struggle over the very future of the federal government is continuing this week, as House Democrats continue to push for it to be reopened. This Thursday, they passed an eighth funding package, this time getting their legislation approved via voice vote after Republicans at one point appeared to have failed to even formally request a recorded vote. They insisted they had actually made such a request, but the chair supposedly ignored it. One reporter said that Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), who was acting as chair at the time, waited almost half a minute for an objection to the initial voice vote before moving on.
Republicans quickly complained about being shut out of the voting process that went right on without them, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) eventually relented and said the measure would be revoted on next Wednesday. That did not unfold quickly enough to keep it from becoming clear which side is really taking this issue seriously, however. Reporter Mike DeBonis described the situation as the newly in the majority Democrats finding the Republicans “napping.”
To begin with, you’d think that a matter like reopening the federal government and getting the hundreds of thousands of affected workers back on their feet wouldn’t really be a partisan issue — but this is the age of Trump. President Donald Trump has refused to approve any further government funding at all without over $5 billion for a border wall, and Congressional Republicans have largely fallen in line.
No more than a dozen House members have joined Democrats on each of their spending packages that don’t include wall funding, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to even bring any of the House-approved spending packages up for a full vote without confirmation the president will actually sign it.
A small group of high profile Senators including Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have begun pushing for the president to reopen the government and then negotiate over his border security demands. Thus, there might actually be at least a few Republicans on board in the Senate as well should a funding package come up without a border wall — but thanks to McConnell, that hasn’t happened.
Neither he nor the president have budged even as the negative effects of the shutdown pile up. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been among those to share stories of the government workers spread all across the United States who suddenly can’t handle basic life expenses like rent and mortgage payments. Although the president has signed a measure ensuring that whenever the government reopens, workers will get pay covering its length, contractors are still out in the cold.
That doesn’t cover the many Americans who rely on crucial services the government provides either. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps, will run out of funding at the end of February unless something changes. Air traffic controllers, food inspectors, and beyond have all been affected by the indefinite closures — but the president just keeps playing politics.
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