Senate Democrats are preparing to force a brief, pointless government shutdown this weekend, the first evidence of their newly acquired taste for obstructionism. Senate Democrats are demanding Republican re-negotiate a bill which would extend health insurance for miners. However, members of the House are already on their way out of town meaning the time for negotiating is over. From Politico:
Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio), two senators up for reelection in 2018 from states won by Donald Trump, are leading the charge to get a better deal from Republican leaders, a drive that’s resonating with the rest of the 46-member Democratic caucus. But Republicans say they will not renegotiate a four-month extension of coal miner health benefits and that Democrats have lost all leverage after the House passed the spending bill, 326-96, and then promptly left town…
“A lot of our members feel extremely strongly about miners,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the incoming Democratic leader next year. Asked how they can negotiate with the House already done for the year, Schumer said: “That’s all I’m saying.”
The reason Schumer isn’t saying more is because what Democrats are doing makes no sense except when viewed as a tantrum. In order to keep the government running without interruption, the Senate needs unanimous consent to vote on the bill by this Friday but that would require cooperation from Senate Democrats. The Washington Post reports:
The Senate will now need to vote on the legislation by the end of Friday to avert a government shutdown. But it would need unanimous consent to take up the bill in time to meet that deadline and Democrats are threatening to withhold their support for such a procedural move. The Senate would still be able to vote Sunday to pass the appropriations measure without this consent, but it would force a roughly one-day government shutdown.
After the House passed the spending bill Thursday a spokesman for Paul Ryan said, “The House just took its last votes of the year.” In other words, nothing else will happen on the House side until members of Congress return to work in January. Again, Democrats know this is over but are looking for a symbolic win of some kind. The GOP seems to be taking a ‘wait them out’ response. Sen. John Cornyn tells Politico, “They’re not going to get what they want. They ought to actually be grateful for what they got.”
Naturally, Democrats are already trying to blame the shutdown they intend to cause on the GOP. Sen. Tim Kaine said, “If Republicans want to shut it down, they will.” Is anyone in the media going to buy it?