Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the one person in government who can force Individual 1 to back down on the partial government shutdown and the wall. It will take just one thing: a vote on the bills passed by the House last week to restore funding to the shutdown agencies and buy another month’s worth of time to negotiate on border security. That’s almost exactly what the Senate unanimously passed on December 19. Since McConnell refuses to act, some Senate Democrats are hatching a plan to force his hand, Greg Sargent reports.
It started with a tweet from Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) saying that Democrats should use their filibuster power to block any vote on anything unrelated to government funding until McConnell takes up a vote to reopen the government. “The Senate should make its first order of business a vote on the House bills to reopen the government,” Van Hollen told Sargent. “McConnell and Senate Republicans have to stop contracting out their votes to Donald Trump,” Van Hollen continued. “They have an important constitutional role, and we should not have business-as-usual in the Senate until we open the entire federal government.”
“McConnell and Senate Republicans have the keys in their hands. Trump may veto what we do, but we have our own separate responsibility,” Van Hollen told Sargent. “You’ve got a lot of Republican senators who are up in 2020 who say they want to get the government open. This would be their opportunity to show that.” The two main targets right now are Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Susan Collins (R-ME), who have been making noise to that effect. This move could put additional pressure on them, particularly Collins, to actually do something. Like join with Democrats in demanding these votes.
As of now, Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (NJ) and Ben Cardin (MD), and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) have endorsed the idea, along with advocacy groups MoveOn and Indivisible. The difficulty in making it happen right now is a procedural vote scheduled Tuesday night on a bill from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), purportedly in support of Israel, that McConnell is trying to troll Democrats with. Democrats won’t have a chance to meet as a caucus before that vote, and many are scattered now among their home states. Organizing the effort before that vote is a logistical challenge, but can be implemented after that meeting Wednesday.
If it works, it would have the added benefit of goading Trump into demanding that McConnell nuke the legislative filibuster, since Trump is incapable of thinking far enough ahead to realize how bad it would be for him and Senate Republicans if the filibuster was gone while the House is in Democratic control. That’s a fight between Trump and McConnell we always have to be there for!