Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) hit the ground running as soon as she took office for the second time in control of the House. Since then, she has passed 10 bills to reopen the government. The last one was amazing.
She packaged six appropriations bills to fund the government all the way through the fiscal year, September 30th, and sent it on to the Senate. If the Senate passed it and Donald Trump signed it, federal employees, contractors, and subcontractors could get back to earning money immediately. About half of the 800,000 federal workers were furloughed in the partial shutdown, and the other half has been forced to work without pay.
Even if the president refused to sign her latest bill, with enough public pressure, the Senate might have enough votes to override his veto. The House legislation passed 234-180 as a straight up measure to end the partial government shutdown, according to CNBC.
Freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was the only Democrat to vote no on the bill. A full 10 Republicans decided to vote yes on this one.
House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) introduced the package as a way to pressure Republicans to break away from the commander-in-chief who has been holding federal employees hostage with no pay for almost five weeks. Trump has said he will not reopen the government unless the Democrats give him $5.7 billion for a steel wall along the U.S.’s southern border with Mexico.
The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been missing in action for nearly a month. He came out to say that he would put two bills up for a vote, knowing full well that they probably would not pass — one from the Republicans and one from the Democrats.
Thus far, McConnell has not been willing to bring Pelosi’s bills for a vote unless they meet his narrow requirements. POTUS has sent his demand to the majority leader, which included funding for his wall along with additional draconian measures for immigrants. Those have all the markings of one of Trump’s top aides, Stephan Miller.
McConnell scheduled the votes probably well aware that his senators could go home and say they voted to open the government. The GOP bill included a promise of a temporary three-year relief for Deferred Action for Children Act (DACA) individuals who came here with their parents when they were children. The Supreme Court blew a hole in that offer, when it said it would not hear a DACA case for probably 18 months, leaving the DACA provisions in place.
Pelosi’s bill would provide for opening the government long enough for the unpaid federal workers to get paid and Trump to give his much-desired State of the Union speech in the House as is customary. This is called a three-week continuing resolution and would keep the federal government running long enough to negotiate with the Senate and the president.
Thus far, the hundreds of thousands of federal employees have missed two pay periods. Contractors and subcontractors will not be reimbursed. During a previous government shutdown, federal workers had to sue to get their funds owed them.
The shutdown started at a difficult time of the year, December 22 and is in its 33rd day.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.