Gage Skidmore / Flickr mitch mcconnell...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

There still seems to be some serious doubt about whether or not the US government will shut down at midnight tomorrow night. Small glitch, when a national media organization is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already has a battle plan in place to try to embarrass Democratic Senators up for reelection this year in the shutdown, it’s kind of like watching the last five minutes of “The Crying Game” on You Tube before you plug the DVD into the player.

There is a good reason for McConnell to be setting up for the long haul, and this is just another shining example of the dysfunction in the GOP congressional caucus. When you control both chambers of government, the secret to governance is finding things both sides can agree on. I’m not talking about Republicans and Democrats, I’m talking about the GOP House, and the GOP Senate. Paul Ryan is going to hold a House vote today on a short term continuing resolution that will keep the government open for a month, but it has the life expectancy of an August snowflake in Phoenix of passing the Senate. Ryan is still mightily pissed about the Senate hanging his members out to dry on their healthcare vote, and he’s more interested in paying the Senate back than he is in keeping the government open.

McConnell has good reason to plan for the worst. Not only does the House plan have no chance of passing, with several GOP Senators already planning to vote “no,” McConnell is going to need at least 9 Democrats to get anything through the Senate. McConnell admits that he has no idea of what to introduce to the floor because he has no idea of what Trump will support and sign. Also, the optics are different in the Senate. While Paul Ryan has more than enough votes to pass a shitty CR, but in the House with purely GOP votes, McConnell, having been in the Senate since Christ was a carpenter, knows that if the government shuts down, the GOP Senate is going to take the blame if the House passes their bill, especially with Ryan repeating that fact every five minutes.. People aren’t going to give a fat rats ass about the filibuster when their tax refunds are late, or their EEOC suit is delayed due to the shutdown.

According to reporting in Politico, McConnell has a master plan, but it has all the tensile strength of a Slinky. He is planning on keeping the Senate in session throughout the weekend, staging a series of for-show-only votes, forcing vulnerable Democrats up for reelection to vote over and over again to keep the government shut down. This plan has all of the intricate planning of deciding what to have for lunch. He is planning on using the floor debate forum to cast the Democrats as the ones voting not only to shut down the government, but also for kicking millions of needy kids off of healthcare. If this is his lunch choice, he should have picked the salami, the ham has spoiled.

There are two problems with this attack plan. First, in forcing repeated votes in order to get debate time to slap at the Democrats, what McConnell actually does is to highlight the fact that his Senate can’t get the goddamned thing passed. Every failed vote simply hammers home to the voters that McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate are incapable of governing. The second problem is that using CHIP as a cudgel against Democrats is a terrible idea. Every time a GOP Senator bemoans the fact that the Democrats, in shooting down the continuing resolution, are keeping kids from their necessary medical care, the next Democrat to the podium will simply remind the world that it was the Republicans who let the fucking thing lapse in the first place, despite every Democratic effort to save it before it stale dated. And the media can gleefully confirm this, playing clip after dated clip of Democrats pleading for the GOP to pass a simple bill extending the coverage. McConnell has managed to hang his coat on the one hook that is more toxic for the party than DACA, simply because the number of people involved is much greater, and they’re true children. And he held CHIP hostage over a tax bill that eventually passed without a single Democratic vote.

After reading the Politico article, I am more certain than yesterday that a government shutdown is going to occur. Not only because Yertl the Turtle is already accepting the fact, and taking steps to at least try to turn it to his advantage, but the news that McConnell would need more than 9 Democratic votes due to looming defections in his own caucus on a vote on the House bill pretty dooms it from the start. Not only that, but the government isn’t even shut down yet, and already Trump is stepping all over McConnell’s “A” line. McConnell wants to flaunt CHIP against the Democrats, and His Lowness is already saying that the Democrats want to shut down the government to get the discussion away from the wildly successful GOP tax law. This is the equivalent of saying that an actor burned down the theater because he didn’t get that bit part playing the dead body in the murder scene.

I cannot conceive of a reason for a single Democratic Senator, even a vulnerable one to vote to bail the GOP out on this shutdown. The chance of getting 9 Democratic Senators to vote for the billo are negligible, and to vote with the Republicans in a vote that fails is to invite a primary from the left at a time when the Democratic base is already energized to start making principled stands. Besides, if the Democrats play their cards right, they can not only get DACA out of this, they should be able to get CHIP too, since it was the GOP House that put it on the table. Carry on GOP, you’re knocking it out of the park.

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