For those of us who have been engrossed in the political theater in Washington this past year, the government shutdown was oddly a tad anti climatic. The shutdown started because of dividing ideological lines on immigration. Senate Democrats wanted funding and reform for “dreamers” (people who were brought here as children and have lived most of their lives in the United States). Republicans, in return for reform, wanted their own big ticket item: the construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. As is typically the case, Congress was deadlocked. In this article, I will be going over a couple key points to help anyone who is looking to learn more about the complexities of this developing story before forming their own opinion.
The vote on the Senate floor was 50-49. To pass a budget, you need a total of 60 votes. Interestingly, Republicans had five of their own vote against the bill: Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul. Their lack of support could be attributed to the bill either not going far enough on immigration restrictions, or for going too far. Five Senate Democrats did vote in favor of not shutting down the government: Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Doug Jones (AL), Claire McCaskill (MO), Joe Manchin (WV), and Joe Donnelly (IN). It is also worth mentioning that John McCain (R-AZ) was absent for health reasons. Simple math shows that Republican leadership was more unified under Mitch McConnell. Perhaps the government shutdown could have been avoided completely if McConnell could have gotten the 60 votes needed from all Republican party members and eight Democrats.
Who lost the shutdown? In other words, who lost the most political momentum so to speak? Well, most would agree it was President Donald Trump. It became apparent over the weekend that President Trump gained funding and approval to build his border wall with bipartisan support. Yet, for some reason, the president and his aids were uncharacteristically quiet this weekend. Perhaps his bone spurs were acting up? Nonetheless, in one fell swoop, the President could have gotten his wall, reformed DACA , and ended the shutdown Thus, possibly making him the hero of the day. However, he emerged from the vote with nothing and the wall is off the table. I was once taught that intelligent opportunism was one of the most important principles in life to understand; it seems this lesson has not reached the president.
Putting aside whether it was right or wrong for the Democrats to shut down the government, they now appear hypocritical. In 2013, when
“Tea Party” members of Congress shutdown the government, the Democrats were highly critical and said some things that have come back to bite them. I admit circumstances are different, but hypocrisy needs to be accounted for.
"I call them 'legislative arsonists'," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said at the time.
In 2013, Booker called his Senate-seat challenger a “tea-party extremist” when it comes to government shutdowns He also said the Senate needs people that will “not play this shutdown politics that plays with the full faith and credit of the United States of America.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said at the time that he has “never seen such an extreme group of people adopt such an insane policy.” He continued by rhetorically asking the following: “Does Speaker (John) Boehner need to engage in something like the ancient practice of sacrifice, this time to the right-wing gods? Do we have to sacrifice the economy and help for millions of middle class people?”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., called Republicans “unhinged” at the time.
“It’s really a tantrum; it’s a tea party tantrum. ‘You either give me my way, or we’re going to shut down government.’ Said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.