Senate Republicans are starting to crack under the pressure of the shutdown they still refuse to vote to end. On Thursday, six Republicans broke ranks and voted to reopen the government, but the real action seems to have been in the sniping at a private lunch.
“This is your fault,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at one point, according to two Republicans who attended the lunch and witnessed the exchange.
“Are you suggesting I’m enjoying this?” McConnell snapped back, according to the people who attended the lunch.
That exchange was about Thursday’s painful Senate votes, not about the shutdown itself, but … the context was the shutdown, and it’s beautiful. The lunch also included a “lively but not particularly angry” exchange in which Sen. Thom Tillis tried to interrupt Sen. Mitt Romney, and Romney “snapped back.”
Also, “McConnell made clear to Pence and others in the room that the shutdown was not his idea and was not working,” according to the reports—though publicly McConnell remains on board with the shutdown as long as Dear Leader wants it, which means McConnell is firmly a co-owner of this shutdown and all the pain that comes with it.
Unfortunately, the pain Senate Republicans are feeling over this is a tiny fraction of the pain they’re inflicting on the nation. But it’s nice to see that they’re feeling the strain. Maybe eventually it’ll get bad enough that they’ll put meaningful pressure on Donald Trump to fold.