Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell have a plan. Or do they?

Two Senate bills to end the government shutdown, but neither is expected to pass

By Terry H. Schwadron
Published January 24, 2019 11:30AM (UTC)
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Mitch McConnell; Charles Schumer (Getty/Alex Wong/Mark Wilson)

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The Senate gunslingers have decided on twin duels on the shutdown tomorrow.

Chances are that both efforts will fail to earn the required 60 votes, and despite all the hot air, there is no plan as to what comes next, other than extended financial hardships for the 800,000 furloughed federal workers, who are now on track to miss a second, bi-weekly paycheck.


Apparently, the big procedural brains of the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer want to go through the motions. McConnell has dressed up President Trump’s unilateral proposal to spend more money and offer temporary relief for Dreamers along with his insistent $5.7 (or more) billion for a Wall; Schumer wants the “clean” temporary financing move that will put people back to work and leave time for more actual negotiating about the Wall.

As reports emerge of a senator here or there crossing party lines, apparently there are not enough to assure passage – even though every senator had voted for the clean financing approach a month ago until President Trump decided to turn and reject such an approach.

Unless something unexpected happens, it’s all a show trial for the base voters for each political party. Republicans have decided to back Trump all the way, even though many do not actually believe in the efficacy of the Wall. Democrats have decided this is the line in the sand, or else they will spend the rest of Trump’s presidency kowtowing to him.


The most political sly thinkers are hoping that McConnell is putting the bill out there, knowing that it will fail so that he can then turn to Trump and say, in effect: “We tried it your way and lost, now let me see if I can get it done by arranging a better deal that may actually involve Democrats.”

The significant person with no vote today is Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is lying in wait for any possible Senate approval that she can quash with Democratic votes in the House.

For me, I really dislike watching the drama when the outcome is already prescribed. By the end of tomorrow’s voting, it is a guarantee that federal workers will still be without paychecks, that federal contractors will simply go unpaid and that tons of small businesses that depend on federal workers for dry cleaning, restaurant meals, car repairs and rents will be hurting as well.


What is wild here is that Trump insists that all of this tumult is in the name of protecting Americans. All immigration debates aside, he is protecting Americans by hurting Americans.

Meanwhile, all sides seem resistant to arguments based on fact, and the facts on the ground show the relentless nature of the issues at hand.

  • Every news media outlet is showing pictures of Coast Guardsmen and other federal workers using food kitchens.
  • The New York Times provided an interesting analysis from the El Chapo drug smuggling trial in New York that showed that Mexico’s biggest drug kingpin brought billions of dollars of drugs right across the border at our points of entry, the most walled-off portions of the border, rather than use those remote, rural areas hundreds of miles away. The cartel also used sophisticated tunnels beneath any wall.
  • Meanwhile, more than 1,700 Hondurans were walking and hitchhiking through Guatemala, heading toward the Mexico border as part of a new caravan of migrants hoping to reach the United States. Over 1,700 migrants passed through the Agua Caliente border crossing under the watchful eyes of about 200 police and soldiers. Some migrants told The Associated Press that they crossed informally elsewhere. Guatemala’s National Immigration Institute said there were 325 children or youths under 18 in the caravan. There were also just over 100 people from El Salvador.
  • The Supreme Court refused to move early to take on the question of the legality of the DACA laws, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That means it likely will be another year before there is a ruling.
  • And there remain a couple hundred — or a couple of thousand — migrant children separated from parents. No one seems to know for sure.

In Washington, it is all about the politics of the problem.

Someone needs a reminder that the effects are real.

Terry H. Schwadron

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