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It is the bright, fresh practice of the Senate of the United States of America to formally abandon all activity if the President of the United States might not like what the Senate would do. Of course, this is in stark contrast to times past when Congress was held to be a separate and equal branch of government. Now, though, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has seen the wisdom of abdicating Congressional responsibility. You can expect more acts of Senatorial disappearance as the shutdown continues or really any time it’s politically expedient.
Note that Senator McConnell is still under a Harry Potter invisibility cloak and didn’t appear to be available for comment.
Everyone knows that McConnell has stated that he won’t bring a bill to the floor of the Senate to resolve the government shutdown issue unless he knows the president will sign it. But, why is that? Try this.
A vote to open government without funding Trump’s wall is a most precarious thing for Republican senators. If they do that they will have turned their backs on Trump’s campaign promise and, correspondingly, on their constituents who voted for Trump. Senators will feel their fury in their next primary. It will be ugly and they know it.
If, on the other hand, those senators vote against reopening government, each one will immediately feel the fury of every government worker in their state, as well as the fury of the workers’ families and their friends, independents who can spell “empathy” and all Democrats in their state. That fury will be brought to every election s/he will enter for the rest of their life and they will have to resign from the Senate and become a lobbyist for Big Pharma or a defense contractor.
That’s why McConnell won’t bring a bill to reopen government to the floor for a vote if he thinks Trump will veto it. These days it’s very hard to be a Republican.
Here’s how to get the government reopened without spending billions on a useless wall designed solely for Trump’s ego. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her team should offer this to Trump and announce it to the public at a press conference:
- Immediately reopen all of government.
- Immediately pay all back wages both to workers who were forced to work without pay and to workers who were furloughed.
- Trump will deliver a personal, hand-written note to each federal worker, written in bold Sharpie, saying, “I know I hurt you. I apologize and promise I’ll never do that again.” Okay, that isn’t going to happen. It’s just snark. I do feel better now.
- Funding will be provided for a bi-partisan blue ribbon committee to generate a plan to bring border security and immigration policy into the 21st century, including recommendations for permanently dealing with the DACA kids and the other 11,000,000 undocumented in the US now. The plan is to be submitted to Congress and the president within 9 months of committee inception. It is to include no recommendation tor a wall except where a wall will actually enhance border security and is to be of appropriate construction. No need for a wasteful “big, beautiful wall.”
- Congress is to draft a bill following the committee’s recommendations, as adjusted or amended by Congress, and vote on that bill within 6 months.
Note that Congress won’t be starting from scratch because there were efforts at immigration reform not long ago.
The beauty of this plan is that the if the president rejects it he will be telling everyone that he really doesn’t support border security or immigration reform; he only supports what makes him look like a tough guy and doesn’t care about America or Americans. There will be substantial pressure on him to agree to this plan.
Plus, the president can claim a victory, as there will be some amount of wall that will be constructed. And he can claim fiscal prudence, too, since whatever wall is recommended will likely cost a lot less than $5.7 billion and a whole lot less than the projected $59 billion for a complete Trump wall. Everyone wins.
Perhaps you recall President Trump bravely declaring, “There’s been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump.” Regardless, he had to be dragged kicking and screaming to sign off on the sanctions imposed on Russia and some oligarchs for their hacking our 2016 election.
Then in December 2018 when Congress was on holiday break he had his Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, dump in Congress’ lap a plan for sanctions removal. They had just 30 days to vote to stop that action and far fewer once congressmen and senators were back in DC. The House voted to stop the sanctions removal with a strong bipartisan showing. The Senate wimped out, falling two votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.
Every one of those nay voting senators knows that Russia is a bad actor. Every one of them knows that Russia hacked our election and deserved those sanctions. And 43 of them voted to lift the sanctions.
Someone please tell me where those brave men and women store their spines when they go to DC.
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Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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