Saturday, January 20, 2018

2018 Government Shutdown

Well here we go again.

WASHINGTON — Much of the federal government officially shut down early Saturday morning after Senate Democrats, showing remarkable solidarity in the face of a clear political danger, blocked consideration of a stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating. The shutdown, coming one year to the day after President Trump took office, set off a new round of partisan recriminations and posed risks for both parties. It came after a fruitless last-minute negotiating session at the White House between Mr. Trump and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. With just 50 senators voting in favor, Senate Republican leaders fell well short of the 60 votes necessary to proceed on the spending measure, which had passed the House on Thursday. 

Five conservative state Democrats voted for the spending measure. Five Republicans voted against it, although one of those, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, did so for procedural reasons. As the clock ticked toward midnight, when funding for the government was set to expire, senators huddled on the floor of the crowded Senate chamber, searching for some way forward. Then, in the early morning hours, Mr. McConnell proposed a measure that would keep the government open for another three weeks, not four as the House measure would have done, and said the Senate would come back to into session at noon Saturday.

Each political party is betting that the other side will blink first. Democrats, and some Republicans, are making the political and moral calculation that fixing the DACA problem is a hill worth fighting on and dying on if need be. I'm not so sure about that. The commentator Yvette Carnell asked if we could imagine a world in which rather than prioritizing DACA, Senate Democrats refused any shutdown deal that did not include a fix for poor Black American areas afflicted with hookworm. In other words, regardless of your position on DACA, it isn't the most critical issue impacting American citizens right now. But Democrats, still smarting from their 2016 election loss, and Republicans, still looking for scapegoats and people to bully, despite their near total control of most branches of government, evidently both welcomed this shutdown brawl, regardless of which issue precipitated it. If it hadn't been DACA it would have been something else. Maybe now that a shutdown has occurred cooler heads will prevail in the Senate session which starts at noon today.

All that remains to be seen now is which side will lose its nerve and whether the other side will allow them some sort of face saving method by which to back off of their maximalist demand. My money is on the Republicans. It's worthwhile noting however that five Democrats, including newly elected Alabama Senator Doug Jones, voted with the Republicans on this issue. Most of the polls seem to indicate that the public will blame Trump and the Republicans for the shutdown more than they will blame the Democrats. Each side will look ahead to the 2018 elections to determine if their position resonates with their base. I am starting to believe that for a lot of different reasons this country might be better off splitting apart. The immigration issue and the resulting bad blood, is just the proximate cause for that feeling. Although a temporary shutdown doesn't impact me the longer it goes on the worse off just about everyone will be.
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