It’s day 21 of Trump shutdown, and the one person who could force him to end it steadfastly refuses to act. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remains on the sidelines, his allies say, because he believes “Trump is the Republican whose opinion counts the most.”
“Finding common ground is really important, but it would make no sense to add in another Republican to negotiate against another Republican,” Josh Holmes, Mr. McConnell’s former chief of staff and campaign manager, told the Wall Street Journal. “He understands why they’re trying to drag him into it.” As if it’s all about scoring political points against McConnell and not about the fact that he’s neutered the Senate and abdicated his responsibility to the whole country.
Senate Democrat Mazie Hirono of Hawaii is having none of that. “I think that is one of the lamest excuses I’ve heard from somebody who has the power to bring the House-passed bills to keep the government open, and who has had no reluctance to use those powers to force a vote on eliminating the Affordable Care Act for millions of people,” Hirono said on All in with Chris Hayes Thursday. “He had no problems using his power to prevent Merrick Garland from even being considered,” she added.
The House of Representatives, by the way, is in session Friday, voting to fund the Department of the Interior and end the crisis in our national parks, as well as the EPA and 20 other agencies, including Smithsonian Institution museums and the National Zoo. This week, they’ve passed appropriations bills for every part of government that’s shut down, and they’ve done it with as many as 12 Republican votes. Senate Republicans, too, are increasingly restive. Especially the ones gearing up for 2020, though there is as of yet no outright rebellion against McConnell’s leadership, even though it’s his shutdown as much as Trump’s as of now.