Today is the 20th day of the Trump government shutdown, the day after the the very stable genius stormed out of a negotiating meeting with congressional leaders when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told him he still couldn’t have his wall. It also marks the 20th day of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acting as Trump’s toady and refusing to do his constitutional duty.
As that abbreviated White House meeting was happening, the House was passing the first of four spending bills to reopen government. This one was for the IRS, the Treasury Department, and other financial services. On Thursday, they’ll take up two funding bills, to reopen Agriculture and the FDA, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development.
In the Senate, however, there will be no votes. Thursday morning, all of the Senate Democrats came to the floor to demonstrate their readiness to make the Senate relevant again and take up the spending bills passed by the House last week. With every Democrat there and ready to act, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) asked for unanimous consent to bring the first bill to reopen government to the floor. McConnell personally objected, saying “the last thing we need to do is trade pointless, absolutely pointless show votes back and forth across the aisle.” Opening government back up is “pointless,” says McConnell.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) tried again, trying to get the bill that the Senate passed last month, unanimously, back to the floor. McConnell objected, leading Van Hollen to tell McConnell that the Senate—that McConnell personally—”shouldn’t be contracting out our constitutional responsibilities to the president.”
That’s precisely what McConnell has done, leading Pelosi to ask him directly, “Do you take an oath to the Constitution or an oath to Donald Trump?”