One easy solution to the three-week government shutdown appears to be growing more viable by the day: Since Republicans and Democrats in both houses of Congress have already agreed to a budget, they should pass it regardless of veto threats by President Donald Trump. If he rejects the bill in stubborn defense of his ill-considered border wall, Republicans should abandon Trump’s sinking ship and override him.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., refuses to let a budget floor vote proceed if Trump won’t sign it. But the job of Republicans on Capitol Hill is not to bow to this mercurial president’s whims. They represent their constituents, who soon will start to feel the pain in very real ways as important government services are curtailed.
Pressure on McConnell and other Republicans is mounting, and they know they cannot hold out for the “months or even years” that Trump reportedly told congressional leaders he was willing to wait to force funding for the border wall.
Starting Friday, 800,000 government workers will stop receiving their paychecks. A cascade of service curtailments will begin affecting Americans in harsh ways. Tax refund checks won’t be processed. Mortgage applications that require federal approval won’t be processed, impacting the housing market.
Airline travel faces delays as air-traffic control staffing is pinched. According to CNN, increasing numbers of Transportation Security Administration agents are calling in sick to protest the requirement that they continue working without pay. These are just a few of the many ways the effects of the shutdown will be passed on to the American public, and when enough constituents get fed up, members of Congress will hear about it — loudly and angrily.
McConnell is one of 22 Senate Republicans facing re-election battles in 2020, and his role in prolonging the shutdown is likely to factor in the bid for his seat. “Mitch McConnell has a problem — and it’s Donald Trump,” political analyst Mary Anne Marsh wrote on the Fox News website.
A few Republicans have announced their decisions not to seek re-election, which frees them from worrying about voter backlash for abandoning Trump. “There is no excuse for even a short-term, partial government shutdown,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., stated. “I’m not for a government shutdown under President Trump.”
Increasing numbers of Republicans in both houses are starting to waver. “It’s not the way to govern. There’s no reason why, and it makes zero sense that in the name of border security we should be defunding ... the three entities responsible for securing our border,” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., told National Public Radio.
The nation is being held hostage by Trump and his dwindling base of wall-obsessed extremists. A veto override is the quickest route to reopen the government while Republican and Democratic moderates negotiate a long-term immigration solution.