Welcome to the club, Sen. Chuck Schumer. Three weeks ahead of the next government funding deadline, the senator from New York is raising the alarm, with good cause.
“I’m increasingly worried that President Trump will want to shut down the government again because of impeachment,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday. “He always likes to create diversions. I hope and pray he won’t want to cause another government shutdown because it might be a diversion away from impeachment.” Trump isn’t paying much attention to the fact that he’s supposed to be helping run a government at the moment, being somewhat preoccupied with “NO Quid Pro Quo.” (There was quid pro quo.)
There will be a familiar fight among the House and the Senate and the White House, the kind that Trump loves. The border wall: It’s his happy place, his refuge, and the one idea he’s been able to hold in his head since 2015. Once again, he’s not going to get it through appropriations, not with a Democratic House. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell knows that, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to try to help Trump, for now anyway.
So McConnell is deflecting, at the moment posturing instead of working with his Democratic colleagues—whom he needs to pass spending bills—to negotiate the bills. Democrats are going to reject a defense spending bill because it stipulates too much relative to domestic spending, in contravention of the agreement that the Congress reached back in September on parity. So he’s falling back on an old trope, saying that Democrats are using the troops as “pawns.” It’s not working. “McConnell knows the truth. Which is simply that unless you have a bipartisan negotiation on the appropriations bills then nothing will happen,” Schumer said. “Hopefully, our Republican friends many of whom because of cuts in defense—will realize now that it’s time to negotiate.”
McConnell will negotiate with Democrats eventually; he has to. His much harder job is going to be negotiating with Trump and making sure that an entire operating government is not sacrificed to Trump’s impotent rage.