Democrats have a plan to end the partial shutdown on Thursday – the first day that they take control of the House of Representatives. And if it fails, they want to make sure everyone knows it’s on President Donald Trump.
House Speaker-Designate Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that on Thursday, the House would vote on a series of measures that would reopen the government. There are seven outstanding appropriations bills: the series of measures the House Democrats are proposing would fund six for a year, and extend funding for the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8. The bills have all passed Senate committees on a bipartisan basis.
They would vote separately on the funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which has been the sticking point that produced the shutdown. That bill would fund Homeland Security through Feb. 8 at current levels, which does not include money for a border wall. This latter part is similar to what the Senate passed unanimously earlier in December, before the House rejected it to fund Trump’s border wall.
“While President Trump drags the nation into Week Two of the Trump Shutdown and sits in the White House and tweets, without offering any plan that can pass both chambers of Congress, Democrats are taking action to lead our country out of this mess,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement. “This legislation reopens government services, ensures workers get the paychecks they’ve earned and restores certainty to the lives of the American people.”
The plan is unlikely to go anywhere unless Trump concedes he will not get his border wall imminently. With this measure, Democrats are explicitly trying to ensuring that the buck for the government shutdown stops with Trump and Senate Republicans.
“This isn’t that hard: All Senate Republicans have to do is pass legislation they have already supported on a bipartisan basis,” said one House Democratic aide. “They can either vote for their own bills and reopen the government or block them and continue the shutdown.”
“If Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans refuse to support the first bill, then they are complicit with President Trump in continuing the Trump shutdown and in holding the health and safety of the American people and workers’ paychecks hostage over the wall,” Schumer and Pelosi said in their statement. “It would be the height of irresponsibility and political cynicism for Senate Republicans to now reject the same legislation they have already supported.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office could not provide any predictions about how the Senate would proceed on the legislation, but said that the Senate would not deliver anything to the President that he would not sign. If the President continues to insist on $5 billion for the wall, the House Democrats’ plan would fall into that category.The government has been partially shut down since midnight on Dec. 22, with the government locked in a standoff over Trump’s wall demand. He says he will reject any spending package that lacks it, but the Senate Republicans do not have the votes to deliver that legislation to him. They need 60 votes to accomplish that objective, which would require some Democratic support.
“Our negotiations are at an impasse at the moment. I wish it were not so,” Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, who chairs the Appropriations Committee that is responsible for the funding, said on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday. “But we’ve got to move away from the blame game.”
Democrats are clearly not heeding Shelby’s advice. By moving to re-open the government on their terms, they are instead trying to ensure the blame stayed on Trump.
The bills the Democrats will propose are expected to pass the House easily, given that Democrats will have a majority of 40 seats. But in order for the government to re-open, they will also need to pass both the Republican-controlled White House and Senate.
The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. However, on Monday morning Trump tweeted repeatedly about the wall. Including saying: “Democrats, come back from vacation now and give us the votes necessary for Border Security, including the Wall.”
Trump initially said he would take responsibility for shutting down the government over the border wall – but has since tried to shift blame to Democrats.