It’s the third week of the government shutdown, and at the end of this week the paychecks for 800,000 federal employees and thousands of government contractors won’t come. The White House has shown no indication it will back down or even negotiate in anything approaching good faith, and has in fact been ratcheting up demands. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remains pretty much AWOL.
The House of Representatives under Democrats is now the only functioning governing body, so it’s going to do what it’s supposed to do: keep voting to reopen government and return to normalcy. This week the House will start taking up the individual spending bills that were included in last week’s “minibus” that passed, with seven Republicans joining it. It combined funding for all the agencies now shut down except for Homeland Security.
Yes, those bills have already passed, but this puts additional pressure on Republicans, forcing them to take numerous votes against completely non-controversial spending bills that would provide funding for food stamps, reopen national parks, and make sure the IRS could start sending out refund checks. Given that every state in the union has federal national parks, monuments, or recreation areas where people work, every state has food-insecure people who need food stamps, and every state has taxpayers who rely on their tax refunds, these should be easy votes for Republicans to take. Saving their constituents is a pretty easy argument to make.
But the majority won’t make it. They’ll stick with their vainglorious, ridiculous leader, feeding his outsized and easily-bruised ego. While they’re at it, voting against all of these funding bills one by one, they’ll be driving nails into the coffins of their political futures, and many of them will be well aware of that. So it’s a smart approach for Speaker Pelosi and team to take. The first fissures are there, and this unrelenting pressure is likely to create more.