Mitch McConnell; Donald Trump (AP/Getty/Salon)

Will Republicans actually stop Trump from forcing another shutdown?

Will Republican Party go over the cliff with Trump on another shutdown -- or actually step up and stop him?


Matthew Rozsa
January 29, 2019 11:00PM (UTC)

In less than three weeks, President Trump could once again shut down the government unless the billions he wants for his coveted border wall.

The question, this time, is whether Senate Republicans will go along with him.

"I did not love the shutdown. I wouldn’t think anybody would have another shutdown," Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told Politico. The story went on to discuss how Senate Republicans, who hold a 53-seat majority in that chamber, largely view the 35-day shutdown as a political disaster and are increasingly reluctant to replicate that experience. Their concern is that their own political standing will suffer as a result of another shutdown — and that it already took a big hit because of the last one — and that the already visible economic damage caused by the shutdown could get worse.

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"I want to be able to say that: ‘no, it’s not possible that we would go back into another shutdown.’ But I didn’t think the first one that was 35 days was possible either," Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told Politico.

Despite these concerns, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has refused to rule out another shutdown, although the reported defection of six Republican senators last week apparently prompted the Trump administration to end the previous one.

"I don’t think House and Senate Republicans want to repeat a shutdown," Kyle Kondik of Sabato's Crystal Ball and the University of Virginia's Center for Politics told Salon by email. "However, I also do not think they want to get on the wrong side of Donald Trump, and overriding his veto would do that. The president is unpredictable enough that one can’t necessarily rule out another shutdown."

What would be the effects of a second shutdown? Kondik suggests they'd be pretty similar to those we've seen already. "It seems clear the GOP suffered more from the shutdown than the Democrats," he wrote. "That said, the [2020] election is a long way away, and this episode could be forgotten by then. However, the president’s approval rating is consistently weak. He and House and Senate Republicans, should be working for ways to improve his approval. Shutting down the government again would not help in that regard."

When asked how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders might react if Trump tries to force another shutdown, Kondik simply said, "I don’t know. All I can say is that if the president forces them to override a veto, they are going to face a very difficult choice."

That view was largely echoed by newly-elected Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who was the Republican presidential nominee just seven years ago. He told Politico, "It goes almost without saying that shutdowns are a very bad idea. And we should not use them as a political weapon."

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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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