Americans will have to wait until after Christmas to find out if their elected representatives will ante up the $5 billion needed to get construction started on President Trump’s desperately needed multi-state border wall with Mexico.
Under pressure from the president, whose signature campaign promise is building the wall to beef up immigration enforcement efforts, the House voted 217 to 185 on Dec. 20 to approve a temporary spending bill after adding $5.7 billion in appropriations for the wall.
Trump has already compromised on wall funding. The wall project is supposed to cost $25 billion. Trump is only demanding one-fifth of that sum –$5 billion— right now to get construction on the border started.
Naturally, senators responded to the national emergency by leaving town. As a result, a quarter or less of the federal government shut down Saturday at 12:01 a.m.
On Friday, President Trump called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to overhaul the Senate’s filibuster rule to allow the spending measure to pass.
“Mitch, use the Nuclear Option and get it done! Our Country is counting on you!” Trump tweeted, using congressional jargon for overhauling the filibuster so legislation can be approved with 51 votes, instead of the current 60.
Instead of empowering Republicans to pass the bill, McConnell opted to let minority Democrats continue to wield a veto over the bill and hold the wall project hostage to placate that party’s radical left-wing base.
He made it clear that he prefers archaic parliamentary arcana over doing what’s needed to guarantee American sovereignty.
McConnell said he cut a deal with his Democrat counterpart, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and would not move forward unless Democrats could reach an agreement with President Trump.
GOP leadership reached a pact with Democrats “with the understanding that no further votes will occur until the president and Senate Democrats have reached a substantive agreement to resolve this. Let me say that again. We’ve pushed the pause button until the president, from whom we’ll need a signature, and Senate Democrats, from who we’ll need votes, reach an agreement. No procedural votes. No test votes. Just a meaningful vote on a bipartisan agreement when one is reached. And it’s my hope that it’s reached sooner rather than later.”
McConnell’s lack of resolve prompted criticism from conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza.
Is Mitch McConnell serious in fretting about the “precedent” of using the nuclear option? Does he think precedent matters to the other side? The GOP leadership seems almost willfully blind to the gangsterization of the Democratic Party[.]
The Senate was to convene briefly Monday with a skeleton staff for a pro forma session but won’t convene to take up the House-approved funding measure until this Thursday, Dec. 27.
Although Republicans will cede control of the House of Representatives to Democrats on Jan. 3, the GOP’s strength will only grow in the Senate on that same date. Presently there are 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats in the Senate. As of Jan. 3, there will be 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats. Democrats have said they will oppose the wall-funding measure when it reaches the Senate.
“As I said earlier, I am glad that productive discussions are continuing,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Saturday.
“When those negotiations produce a solution that is acceptable to all parties—which means 60 votes in the Senate, a majority in the House, and a presidential signature—at that point, we will take it up here on the Senate floor.”
“Senators will be notified when a vote is scheduled. In the meantime, negotiations will continue,” he said.
Meanwhile, not too many Americans actually noticed the partial government shut down Saturday midnight.
It turns out the fear of a federal government shutdown is more terrifying than the shutdown itself.
Except for a handful of offices administering programs and some national parks, hardly anything is actually shut down, as NPR reported.
Some of the nation’s presidential libraries are operating but are not offering the full panoply of services. The Statue of Liberty and Grand Canyon are open, but the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania is closed.
“The shutdown is affecting nine of the 15 Cabinet-level departments, including Interior, which runs national parks, and Agriculture, which runs national forests,” according to The Epoch Times. “About 16,000 National Park Service employees—80 percent of the agency’s workforce—are being furloughed. Some of the nation’s presidential libraries are also affected.”
Many national parks remain open but their restrooms may be closed. The Washington National Zoo in the nation’s capital was open –and crowded— on the weekend. The Fort McHenry National Monument in Maryland and the Fort Pulaski National Monument in Georgia are closed.
“At Yellowstone, Yosemite and many other major parks, the park service announced it would keep the access to parklands open, but many services, including restrooms, trash removal, some visitors centers and snow removal, would cease,” the Guardian reports.
The Small Business Administration, which backs loans and otherwise assists small businesses, is shut down. “Due to the lapse of government funding, SBA will remain inactive until further notice,” the agency said in a statement on Facebook.
State and local farm service centers run by the Department of Agriculture are shuttered. This means farmers will have to wait until the shutdown ends to apply for government funding.
Some housing programs are affected. “Enforcement of fair housing, issuance of new development grants and housing quality inspections will be delayed. Loans for new homebuyers could also stall,” NPR reports.
But illegal aliens continue to stream into the U.S. by way of the nation’s porous borders all because federal lawmakers won’t devote a miniscule percentage of the federal budget to a border wall that would keep them out.