Senators are likely to vote today on a bill to end the government shutdown and the only difference from the bill Democrats killed last night is the length of time it lasts.
The Continuing Resolution (CR) passed by the House of Representatives yesterday went to the Senate floor late Friday night. A vote to end debate and bring it to the floor, a cloture vote, requires 60 votes and Democrats were having none of it. But now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel has a new plan – the same bill, only shorter… yeah, really.
The defeated CR would have extended government funding until Feb. 16, reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years and delayed some Obamacare tax provisions. The unofficial new CR would only extend funding until Feb. 8 and make no other changes which begs the question: Why the heck does 8 days make a difference?
It’s the politics, silly.
The shutdown occurred because Democrats introduced legal protections for illegal aliens, amnesty, into the government funding debate. Of course, they haven’t put any legislative text together, pushed a bill out of any committee or otherwise done any serious work to get such a measure passed. That’s because Democrats aren’t serious about getting amnesty for illegal aliens and certainly aren’t serious about shutting down the government over it. Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short told reporters Saturday that when Republicans attended a bi-partisan meeting to negotiate the illegal alien issue on Friday, Democrats didn’t bother to show up.
While not serious about dealing with the illegal alien issue, Democrats are very serious about the amount of money they’ll be able to raise due to the #resist-like action of pushing the nation to the brink over this political cause.
Shortening the end date of the CR will allow them to revisit this little budgetary disaster twice more before the March 5th deadline. Just imagine all the money they’ll raise when government employees and military members see their paychecks threatened on Feb. 8, then again on March 5th. But, leaving the date as Feb. 16 would likely force a final conversation at that time. Two fundraising opportunities vs. one – that’s why 8 days matters.
Republicans have no desire to point out the fundraising angle. The narrative that Democrats are holding Americans hostage to get amnesty for illegal aliens is good one for the GOP. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement on the illegal immigrant issue calling Democrats “reckless.”
“We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands,” Sanders said in a statement Saturday. “This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. During this politically manufactured Schumer Shutdown, the President and his Administration will fight for and protect the American people.”
“Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown,” Sanders added. “Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans.”
President Trump chimed in Saturday morning.
“Democrats are holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration,” the president tweeted. “Can’t let that happen!”
Democrats are holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can’t let that happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2018
It is unclear when the Senate may take up the 3-week CR, but as this is little more than political theater for the sake of raising money, a CR of some type is likely by the end of the weekend and the government will likely open as usual on Monday morning.
The last time the government was shut down was in 2013 when then-President Obama forced a shutdown instead of negotiating with Congressional Republicans.