As a government shutdown that’s inflicting pain in every corner of America nears becoming the nation’s longest ever, Republicans have no plan whatsoever to end it as they squabble amongst themselves.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska on Friday became the first member of the GOP caucus to break with Donald Trump and Leader Mitch McConnell and issue a call to reopen the federal government. “Count me in as one of those who wants to address these issues, but also count me in as one who says that shutting down the government is not governing,” Murkowski said from the Senate floor.
In the meantime, her Republican colleagues have been sniping at each other over how to end the shutdown, or even whether to end it.
After South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham began urging Trump on Thursday to declare a national emergency in order to end the stalemate, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa dashed the idea just as quickly. “I would advise against that as a bad precedent,” Grassley told reporters Thursday night.
But fresh off his Thursday trip to the border, Trump was still laying the groundwork Friday morning to declare such an emergency, asserting via tweet, “Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border. I just got back and it is a far worse situation than almost anyone would understand, an invasion!” (We’ve been over this, but there’s no “invasion” and the only “crisis” at the border is the one the Trump administration has created through stranding migrants there by slowing the flow of asylum seekers into the U.S. to a trickle.)
But even as the White House floated the idea of declaring an emergency and raiding already appropriated disaster relief funds to fund Trump’s wall, top White House aides such as Jared Kushner and Kellyanne Conway are reportedly still opposed to using the national emergency route.
And then there’s House Republicans, usual allies of Trump:
GOP all over the map on shutdown strategy: Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows says no one seriously discussing using disaster aid for wall. Florida Rep. Gus Bilirakus very opposed to that idea. Top R on Judiciary Doug Collins calls using disaster money a real viable option.
— Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) January 11, 2019
Yep, it’s a bona fide crisis of governing brought on by the fact that the current iteration of the Republican Party couldn’t legislate its way out of a paper bag. Whatever one might have thought of GOP policies twenty years ago, the party was at least able to pass bills through Congress. For the past decade, congressional Republicans have done almost nothing but block Democratic legislation and confirm judges by majority vote in the Senate, with one glaring exception: passing their tax giveaway to America’s richest.
But now that Republicans are on the hook for finding a workable solution to end a shutdown brought on by an erratic and obstinate GOP president, they’ve got nothing to show other than an epic round of infighting.
Of course, Senate Republicans could put Trump on the spot by passing funding legislation similar to what they approved unanimously by voice vote at the end of the last Congress. But Mitch McConnell is too busy enabling the man-child in the Oval Office to do whatever the heck he wants—regardless of the fact that the real people paying the price for Trump’s irascible meltdown are American taxpayers struggling to pay their monthly bills.
UPDATE: It will be the longest ever shutdown…