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Obstructionist losers

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, January 21st, 2018 - 50 comments
Categories: Donald Trump, International, us politics - Tags:

Right now in the United States of America the Republican Party have control of all parts of the Government.  The President is a Republican, the Senate has a Republican majority and the House of Representatives also has a  Republican majority.

Government ought to be a walk in the park.  But it is not.  Because overnight the US Government started the shut down process because it could not get a vote to continue funding passed.

From the Guardian:

The United States has its first government shutdown in nearly five years after senators failed to reach a deal to keep the lights on.

An effort by Republicans to keep the government open for one month was rejected in a vote on Friday night after they failed to address Democratic concerns about young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.

Republicans needed 60 votes to advance the bill but the legislation only received the support of 50 senators. Five red state Democrats broke ranks to support the bill while four Republicans voted against.

But 12.00am ET came and went without a deal, causing funding for the federal government to lapse. Federal law requires agencies to shut down if Congress has not appropriated money to fund them. Hundreds of thousands of “non-essential” federal employees will be put on temporary unpaid leave. In previous shutdowns, services deemed “essential”, such as the work of the homeland security and the FBI, have continued.

Speaking on the floor after the vote, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell assailed the shutdown as the result of a “cynical decision by the Democrats”. His opposite number, minority leader Chuck Schumer, delivered a scathing rebuke of Donald Trump, blaming the president for the shutdown. The New York Democrat said Trump “walked away from two bipartisan deals” and that “a Trump shutdown will serve as a perfect encapsulation for the chaos he has unleashed”.

So who is to blame?

Elements of the media will attempt to present it in a balanced way and show fault on both sides and try and present both sides of the argument.  But the Republicans and Trump need to wear this.  They tried to load too many requirements onto the continuation of the funding bill and refused to back down from some of the more extreme positions they tried to get the Democrats to agree to.

From the New York Times:

President Trump and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the top Democrat in the Senate, came close to an agreement to avert a government shutdown over lunch on Friday. But their consensus broke down later in the day when the president and his chief of staff demanded more concessions on immigration, according to people on both sides familiar with the lunch and follow-up calls between Mr. Trump and Mr. Schumer.

The negotiations between Mr. Trump and Mr. Schumer, fellow New Yorkers who have known each other for years, began when the president called Mr. Schumer on Friday morning, giving the White House staff almost no heads-up. In a lengthy phone conversation, both men agreed to seek a permanent spending deal rather than the stopgap measure being negotiated by lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Less than an hour later, Mr. Schumer was meeting with Mr. Trump over cheeseburgers in the president’s study next to the Oval Office. The White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, was there, as was Mr. Schumer’s chief of staff, Mike Lynch.

As the meal progressed, an outline of an agreement was struck, according to one person familiar with the discussion: Mr. Schumer said yes to higher levels for military spending and discussed the possibility of fully funding the president’s wall on the southern border with Mexico. In exchange, the president agreed to support legalizing young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

Mr. Schumer left the White House believing he had persuaded the president to support a short, three to four-day spending extension to finalize an agreement, which would also include disaster funding and health care measures.

“In my heart, I thought we might have a deal tonight,” Mr. Schumer recalled later on the Senate floor, shortly after the government officially shut downat midnight. At 11:55 p.m., he had been greeted with a blistering White House statement that “Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown.”

The fear is that the Republicans do not care if the Government is shut down.  Their party is full of people who wish to starve the state then drown it in a bath tub.

50 comments on “Obstructionist losers ”

  1. cleangreen 1

    Thank God we have a Labour coalition Government here finally in NZ.

    Otherwise under National we well may have seen some further repeat of this similar obstructive political behavior also here.

    As a point, we recall that National tried this obstructive behavior on the first day of parliament after the election!!!!

    With the false claim National tried to shut down parliament that day, when they claimed that the new labour coalition did not have the numbers to vote for their speaker of the house Trevor Mallard we all must remember?

    Then National used dirty politics again when they tried to stall the new government by sending over 60000 emailed questions to the Labour coalition MP’s afterwards.

    • Stunned Mullet 1.1

      😆 That’s some impressive fantasy cleangreen.

      • That’s not fantasy – that’s actually what happened.

        But, then, you knew that so that makes you a liar.

        • Stunned Mullet

          😆 Do you need a hug Draco ?

        • alwyn

          “National tried to shut down parliament that day”. Are you really claiming that is what happened? You actually believe that?

          What world are you inhabiting. As I remember it they threatened, as is their right, to vote for someone other than Mallard as Speaker unless the new Government opened up more places on the Select Committees.

          If anyone was trying to shut down Parliament it was Hipkins who was scared that he would lose such a vote. The little chap didn’t even know how many votes he would get and certainly didn’t want such a vote to proceed.
          But you knew that didn’t you? That of course makes you a liar.

          • Draco T Bastard

            What world are you inhabiting. As I remember it they threatened, as is their right, to vote for someone other than Mallard as Speaker unless the new Government opened up more places on the Select Committees.

            Despite previously agreeing to vote for Mallard. But, then, we should be used to not being able to trust National’s word as they don’t have any principles.

            And, yes, it would have caused a significant disruption to the running of parliament for a short time.

            The little chap didn’t even know how many votes he would get and certainly didn’t want such a vote to proceed.

            Hipkins got bluffed by National’s lying. That is a concern for a person in his position but people new into a position do make mistakes.

            Lying is National’s and other RWNJs MO.

  2. Anon 2

    On the one hand I find it ammusing that the FBI just ignores the law and continues operating, on the other why don’t/can’t they split the funding bill into essential and other so that essential/noncontentious funding continues? Is the /only/ reason really to hold such funding hostage, as leverage to get dodgy funding through?

    Why do they even have a funding veto on policy?

    • joe90 2.1

      the FBI just ignores the law and continues operating

      Do tell how the FBI just ignores the law?

  3. joe90 3

    So who is to blame?

    That’s a tough one.

    Early this morning, @clairecmc tried to pass a bill to guarantee military pay and death benefits in the #TrumpShutdown. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell: I object. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/n3a7RBaxzi— Senate Democrats (@SenateDems) January 20, 2018

    THEN @SenBillNelson tried to extend government funding for just ONE DAY to give bipartisan discussions a chance to bear fruit and avoid a #TrumpShutdown.Republican Leader Mitch McConnell: I object. pic.twitter.com/RSnvUibiU2— Senate Democrats (@SenateDems) January 20, 2018

  4. Macro 4

    Interesting analysis of previous shutdowns here:
    If the past is anything to go by this is not going to work out well for the GOP.

    People blame whoever they think is in charge. And although in the past two shutdowns that was somewhat up for debate, it isn’t this time around. Which is why tweets from President Donald Trump insisting that “Democrats want to shut down the Government over Amnesty for all and Border Security” won’t work. Sure, the base of the GOP will respond to that red-meat-throwing. But, there is no amount of Trump tweets that can overcome the fact that Republicans totally control Washington at the moment.

    • joe90 4.1

      tRump knows who’s to blame.

      My sense is that people are far angrier at the President than they are at Congress re the shutdown—an interesting turn!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2013

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    Every day the US looks more like la republica de las bananas.

  6. Andre 6

    Fun fact: Mitch McConnell (Republican Majority Leader of the Senate) was one of the no votes. So he actually voted for the shutdown.

    There’s arcane procedural reasons why he would do that, which are even harder to explain than a filibuster (IIRC if he votes yes to something and it loses, he can’t resubmit it to a vote, if he votes no then he can put it to a vote again later). But that vote is one that looks like it should get used to seriously hang the shutdown around his neck.


  7. Ad 7

    This is going to turn into one almighty proxy war.

    Neither President nor Senator will be trusted in the media, so as the days go on and hundreds of thousands are sent home, or in the case of the Police and other services required to work without pay, and more deaths and injuries occur due to winter, the pressure is going to really pile up.

    In those circumstances, it’s the proxies that matter more: people on the streets and media commentators and union reps and vox pop interviews that will mount up real fast in the public mind.

    It’s a cold, cold winter leading to the mid-term elections now.

  8. Aaron 8

    Why is it even up for debate? If the republican’s have majorities everywhere then surely the shutdown must be because some republican’s are voting against their own party.

    Or am I missing something here?

    • Anne 8.1

      My thoughts too. It’s crazy.

    • Andre 8.2

      The vote that lost in the Senate wasn’t actually the vote on the bill. It was the cloture vote, which is a vote to end the debate and bring the bill to a floor vote. The cloture vote needs 60 votes to pass, a bare majority isn’t enough.

      So one of the tools to obstruct legislation is the filibuster, where a senator endlessly holds the floor gabbing on about whatever (Strom Thurmond holds the record of 24 hours 18 mins filibustering the Civil Rights Act), and it needs 60 votes to make him/her shut up and sit down. The Senate won’t usually hold a cloture vote that might lose, but in this case there was a hard deadline.

      And yes, there were a few Repubs and Dems that voted against their party line. The exact vote is in my link above.

  9. Bill 9

    Help me out here, aye?

    This “funding” is kind of sort of like (say) the budget, yes? I mean, it’s limited to monies required to ensure that (loosely speaking) government bureaucracies continue to function.

    So what’s with the add-on issues?

    If the “Dreamers” bill (I assume there was some kind of bill, proposal or what not) went to the Senate and House and passed or failed, then isn’t that done and dusted?

    And if any bill (as seem to be the case) can be brought back as leverage against government funding proposals, then just what’s the point of having various votes in the House and Senate?

    I know it happens elsewhere; that a government will propose a raft of legislation and put unpalatable bits in there… with the idea being that it’s very difficult or well nigh impossible for oppositions to vote against the rafted legislation on the basis of unpalatable details because “baby and bathwater”… and so some bad crap gets adopted.

    But this US stuff looks to be the opposite of that. This is an Opposition that can seemingly bring something unrelated back to the table and then seek concessions on whatever that is, before it votes “aye” on something that it would normally or naturally tend to vote “aye” on.

    What am I missing here? I’m guessing it’s something obvious… Democrats are holding up across the board funding because some of that funding is ear-marked for executing the Dreamers policy?

    Meaning that when that policy went through or was proposed it had no funding worked out, attached and agreed to?

    • joe90 9.1

      I’m struggling with the nuts and bolts too Bill, but looking at some of the proposals in the bill, it’s little wonder right thinking people are objecting.

      The worst enforcement provision is criminalizing simply being in the United States without status or violating any aspect of civil immigration law (p. 170). This would turn millions of unauthorized immigrants into criminals overnight. It would also criminalize legal immigrants who fail to update their addresses, carry their green card with them at all times, or otherwise abide by the million inane regulations that Congress imposes on them. Take, for example, the status provided to Dreamers in this bill. It requires them to maintain an annual income of at least 125 percent of the poverty line (p. 396). If they fall below that level for 90 days—not only are they subject to deportation again—they would be criminals. This bill literally criminalizes poverty among Dreamers. This legislation would immediately undo much of the progress that the Feds have made on criminal justice reform and reducing its prison population.


      • Bill 9.1.1

        Hang on. That’s the SAF Act that Trump apparently prefers in terms of a replacement to DACA. But there are others. Why – fck, this is hurting my head – but why are none of these proposed Acts coming from a party perspective?

        Is everything in the US the equivalent of a “private member’s bill” seeking cross party support? Is there no real formulation of party policy and whips etc?

        And just a side bar observation again. But the habitual use of “rep” for House representative (republican is what jumps to my mind with that abbreviation) and the habitual absence of a clear indication as to whether a given Senator or Representative is a Dem, Rep or Ind….

        Anyway. From wiki (again 🙄 )

        Proposed Responses to the DACA repeal

        DREAM Act: Proposed by Sens. Graham and Durbin, the DREAM Act offers protections to illegal immigrants similar to DACA, as well as offering a path to citizenship.

        Recognizing America’s Children Act: Proposed by Rep. Curbelo, RAC offers a pathway to legalization through education, military service, or work authorization. After 10 years in this program, immigrants could apply for citizenship.

        The American Hope Act: Proposed by Rep. Gutiérrez, this act offers an expedited path to citizenship that is attainable in eight years, but the immigrant must have entered the US before the age of eighteen.

        BRIDGE Act: Proposed by Rep. Coffman, this bill extends the DACA program by three years, allowing more time to discuss comprehensive immigration reform

        • Craig H

          Basically, yes, party politics doesn’t exist constitutionally, so there is none of the legal party framework we have in NZ (or the UK) such as whips, party bills etc.

          • Bill

            And yet the voter is presented with (for all intents and purposes) a choice between two parties.

    • Craig H 9.2

      It’s a weird system, basically, although in a way (if one squints hard enough at it), it makes sense for a budget bill if funding is required for the program* in question. Riders (unrelated items added to bills) are relatively commonplace in the Senate, and both sides use them, so are unlikely to eliminate them any time soon – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rider_(legislation) for a bit more about them.

      The Republicans regularly tried to use Riders to defund and destroy the Affordable Care Act, and they also used Riders and budgetary items to block the closure of Guantanamo Bay, so any complaining from them is just the usual hypocrisy.

      *American spelling used deliberately.

    • Bill 9.3

      Went away and did some burrowing…

      Somewhere in some tab somewhere (and I’ve just been using “wiki” at this point) the observation was made that this “shut down” couldn’t happen in any other (loosely) western democracy and it could only happen in the US after some court decision sometime in the 70s. (wiki link)

      The whole Senate/House/President thing looks like an unholy tangle. (This is the first time I’ve really made an effort to understand US political structures, and like I say, I’m only using ‘wiki” at the moment.) (wiki links)

      DACA was brought in “unilaterally” by Obama. I’m taking that to mean it didn’t go through the House and Congress. (wiki link)

      An odd side bar. Seems that most States opposed to it used the non- issuing of drivers licences as their main “weapon of choice”. Homeland Security was also (it seems) very much against it and rescinded an expansion of the programme while saying it was reviewing the whole caboodle (I’ve no idea about what powers are at play in that one!) (wiki link)

      Trump rescinded it…again, I’m guessing unilaterally (ie – no House or Senate vote).

      So DACA was intended as a mechanism whereby some children of illegal immigrants (there were caveats) could find some form of security.

      Got me thinking about other countries and how children of illegal immigration are treated. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that in the likes of NZ, UK and Oz they are deported.

      I could be wrong, and I’ve strayed 😉

      edit – have added “wiki” links.

      • Craig H 9.3.1

        On the subject of DACA, like NZ, US immigration is largely the purview of the executive (President there, Cabinet here), so while Congress/Parliament passes legislation for the basic parameters of a visa system, the executive decides how to operate within those parameters and has a lot of discretion in that.

        However, we don’t prosecute to cancel visas or deport people here in NZ, we just follow a process devised by Cabinet, so there’s no reference to court prosecutions – it would literally just be a directive from the Minister of Immigration.

        • Bill

          Sorry. this is just because I’m trying to get my head around shit – but isn’t the House of Representatives the closest equivalent to Parliament, with Congress being more like a House of Lords?

          And then the President (with who-ever they choose to surround themselves with) becomes the head of that appointed cabinet? (jeez 😮 – wiki)

          Hell. No need for any cabinet member to have won any vote anywhere. Just….who-ever! (As long as the Senate gives approval?)

          edit – so, by way of comparison – The Queen surrounds herself with “advisors” of her choosing (with a nod from The Lords) and together they attempt to get her preferences through parliament. And maybe parliament comes up with some stuff for her consideration that they have get the Lords to agree to first. Kinda sorta. It can’t be that screwed, but it’s what I’m seeing atm 🙂

          • Andre

            Congress means the entire legislative branch, ie the House and the Senate together. It gets a little muddied when when someone talks about a Congressman/woman, in which case it almost always means a member of the House, but strictly speaking it could also mean a Senator since the Senate is part of Congress.

            It was intended that the Senate should taker a wider, longer term view of things, hence the six-year terms for Senators and two year terms for Representatives. The idea behind things like the sixty-vote requirement to break a filibuster and confirm some presidential appointments was intended to promote moderation and bipartisanship. Whereas the House was intended to be more the day-to-day stuff, with the Representatives there to put forward their constituents’ interests.

            There’s some splits in responsibilities, such as the House gets no say in confirming presidential appointments, IIRC budgets and anything to do with spending was supposed to originate in the House. But a lot of the original conventions and ideas about how it should work are long gone. A lot of it due to presidents pushing the limits of presidential power and extending it by setting precedents. So I’m hopeful one of the outcomes of the next few years is that Congress will take back some of their powers they have effectively ceded and the office of the president has appropriated.

            • Bill

              See my confusion?

              I meant to say “senate” above by way of comparison to a “House of Lords”, when I said “congress”…but I’d never really twigged to the fact that “congress” related to the whole caboodle.

              Not even sure it had actually registered in my head that three terms get used when referring to US government 😉

            • Bill

              The Senate/House and Congress kerfuffle aside, I’m…okay, so just musing, but England had what many English like to refer to as their “Bloodless Revolution” in 1688 that stripped the monarchy (ie – the “Head of State’) of powers.

              Over 100 years later, the US gains independence from Britain, and within a decade or so draws up a constitution – yes, for a different political arrangement – but one that essentially seems in a way to be a throwback to pre- 1688 England.

              What the US did (and it’s all the more curious given they were notionally viewed as Protestant states – ie, the whole WASP thing and what not) was to invest back in the position of “Head of State”, power that had been stripped from that position over a 100 years prior.

              And then what I wrote as an edit above ( comparing the President to the Queen as a monarch who had never been stripped of power.

              There was other stuff I read in various wiki links to do with all of this that gave me pause for thought on why the US has never adopted metric measurements and has an imperial system that’s even at variance with the one that used to be used in England.

              But that’s shooting out from one warren and straight down into a whole new one 🙂

  10. Ad 10

    The Women’s March in washington is getting good coverage on CNN.

    The ending of funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Programme in this budget failure will affect 9 million children. This was an Orrin Hatch/Kennedy initiative with strong bipartisan support.

    That is going to be big on the list of this Women’s March.

    As well as the spectacular attacks on the funding of reproductive health.


    A beautifully timed march if ever there was one.

  11. joe90 11

    It’s a national sport.

    Government shutdowns are familiar to most Americans, but they’re a relatively recent development. They are the result of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Since then, Congress has failed to authorize funding for the federal government on 18 separate occasions. The first six of those didn’t actually affect the functioning of government at all. It wasn’t until a set of opinions issued by Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti in 1980 and ’81 that the government started treating “funding gaps”— periods when Congress has failed to allocate funds for the ongoing functions of government — as necessitating the full or partial shutdown of government agencies.


  12. Macro 12

    This sums up my thoughts on this whole sorry saga:

    The GOP believes it has set a brilliant trap for Democrats with a cunning ploy of pretending to care about children’s health insurance. “Who could vote against children?” says the party that allowed the insurance to lapse in October.

    And who could support the deportation of children? The one thing Republicans didn’t count on was their own president, whose racist rant about “shithole” countries blew up a hard-fought bipartisan deal on immigration.

    This is a shithole of the Republicans’ own making. They control all sides of Washington and have now made history by presiding over their own shutdown, under a president who prided himself on knowing the art of the deal.

    No deal, no sympathy: polls suggest most voters blame both Trump and the Republicans for the open sewer that stretches all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue.

    During previous shutdowns, calm heads ultimately prevailed: people who cared about good government, or at least worried about the polls that pointed to widespread public disgust. But this is now Donald Trump’s Washington and there are no calm heads to be found.

    As a matter of principle, Republicans cannot come together to agree a deal on immigration. As a matter of sanity, Donald Trump cannot stop his racist belching or surrender the fantasy about his Mexican wall. This shutdown shit-show could run and run.


    • Bill 12.1

      I’m picking it be done by Monday and for Trump to start tweeting shite about his own munificence and genius. (Not that I’m putting my shirt on it mind 😉 )

      • Macro 12.1.1

        I hope your right – at the moment there are around 800,000 govt employees who are out of work and no pay. They, and the people who rely on the somewhat limited public service, are the ones who pay for this absurd method of funding. Even those who are still required to perform their duties – such as military, air traffic controllers and federal police etc, are doing so without pay.

  13. cleangreen 13

    US always likes to act theatrical with politics.

    On the face of it all it looks as if this is being setup to make a full length movie some day in the future eh?

    My thoughts on this for what it’s worth.

    I was living over in Florida when OJ Simpson and Clinton cases were being investigated and saw this all there then daily like it was another sitcom daily issue of ‘Days of our lives’ or “As the world turns” or some other slow motion sitcom. Americans are addicted to showing it all.

  14. infused 14

    Dems pushed back on this requiring immigration law change. You need more than a majority to pass this.

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