Trump and congressional Republicans appear to be making the audacious gamble that they can shut down the government and stick Democrats with the blame, to bolster their fading chances for success in this year’s midterm elections.
The House passed an unacceptable spending bill yesterday that is expected to fail in the Senate, and if there is not another deal struck before midnight tonight, we’ll have a government shutdown.
If that happens, it will be because of Donald Trump’s racism, his devotion to feeding his rabidly anti-immigrant base, and his childish unwillingness to compromise even an inch on his agenda of hate. And all of this despite many public statements that he was eager to sign a legislative solution to protect the hundreds of thousands of DREAMers who Trump himself put in danger (more proof that Americans can’t trust a single word this president says).
It will also be because of the extremism of the Republican majority in the House and Speaker Paul Ryan’s once-again-proven inability to pull together a bill that could attract bipartisan support and stand a shot of passage in the Senate.
For months, the constant wavering and flip-flopping by Trump, as well as the incompetence of both the Trump administration Republican leaders in Congress, have held up bipartisan deals to fix DACA and fund the government as well as urgent priorities like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and disaster recovery.
Now, Republicans have decided that forcing this government shutdown could potentially benefit them politically -- no doubt a notion strongly pushed by Trump who supposedly helped negotiate the bill that House Republicans ended up passing yesterday.
Meanwhile, no one benefits from this spectacle more than Trump, who surely loves this diversion from things heating up more and more in the Russia investigation.
Another thing to note is perhaps the most cynical and cruel move by Republicans in this whole ordeal -- that they held funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) hostage until now just so they could try to use it as a political cudgel against Democrats.
Republicans have repeatedly blocked funding for CHIP -- imperiling the health care of 9 million children -- hoping that CHIP could eventually be their bargaining chip. House Republicans inserted CHIP funding (although, conspicuously left out funding for other critical programs that have also run out of money) into the spending bill they just passed knowing damn well that the rest of the bill was unacceptable and could not muster the votes to pass in the Senate. So, in essence, they are continuing to play political games with the lives of the children who receive their health coverage via CHIP.
Now for a bit about how exactly we got hereâ€¦
This could rightly be called the “Shithole shutdown,” but it’s not simply Trump’s profane, racist, and derogatory language that led us here -- it’s his anti-immigrant agenda, his white nationalist worldview, and his politics of ALWAYS playing to his extreme, bigoted base.
The seeds of this fiasco were planted when Trump rescinded the DACA program and put 800,000 young people who immigrated to the United States as children and know this country as their home at risk of deportation unless Congress passes -- and Trump signs -- a bill to give them legal status.
Last week, Trump hosted a televised meeting as a P.R. stunt to prove he was able to handle the job of president, after the release of the book Fire and Fury, which indicates that he clearly is not. In the meeting, Trump asserted that he’d basically sign any immigration deal protecting DREAMers that Congress put in front of him. And this drove his base NUTS.
Right-wing pundits like Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlson accused Trump of selling out and the nativists and white supremacists in his base were up in arms. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators led by Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham decided to take the president up on his offer and came up with an immigration deal palatable to both parties and scheduled a meeting to present it to the president.
However, just prior to that meeting, Trump’s white nationalist advisor Stephen Miller made sure that the president was keenly aware of the feelings of his extremist base, and he apparently advised the president to take a hard line stance against the deal.
When the meeting then took place in the Oval Office, the senators found a completely different Trump, surrounded by a collection of anti-immigrant hardliners from the House and Senate, who not only rejected the deal because it wasn’t white nationalist enough but felt compelled to grandstand with what he called “tough talk” against immigration from certain parts of the world. That “tough talk” was exemplified most infamously by Trump’s “shithole countries” remark, degrading countries with predominantly black and brown populations because he thought it would play well with his racist base -- the same political calculation that drives of nearly all of Trump’s political and policy positions.
At that point, the deal making steadily fell apart, with Trump and Republican members of Congress -- particularly in the House -- establishing themselves as hurdles to any bipartisan deal.
So now we fight.
We fight to make sure Americans know the truth about what led to this shutdown, if it happens, as Republicans, Fox News, and the rest of the right-wing media are already spinning their lies and trying to lay blame at Democrats’ feet.
We fight to force Republicans to back down and end the shutdown, which could cause real pain for many, many Americans.
And we fight to hold Trump and Republicans accountable, to make sure their political posturing backfires and we’re able to punish them at the polls come November.
Your ongoing support is essential for all of it. So thank you (and thank you in advance) for all of your help in this already very hot major election year. Â
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