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As the 116th Congress gets Sworn in, It’s Time Mitch McConnell and GOP Took Control of the Trump Shutdown

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McConnell AWOL as Economy Craters and He Caters to Trump

The absurd and unpopular Trump shutdown over the border wall is continuing with no end in sight. As a host of observers are highlighting, the shutdown is a political maneuver designed to placate the shrinking Trump base – coming right after a midterm election that already delivered a sharp rebuke to such xenophobia and anti-immigrant politics.  With the economy exhibiting warning signs, a prolonged shutdown threatens to exact a huge toll on the workers directly affected and beyond.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, the new Democratic House majority is set to take office and pass legislation to re-open the government – meaning that Senator Mitch McConnell and other Republicans will have to decide the next move and whether they’re willing to fully embrace and own the shutdown alongside their unhinged president.

According to Pili Tobar, Managing Director of America’s Voice:

President Trump is increasingly unhinged. The shutdown is incredibly unpopular with the American people and dangerous to our economic stability. Yet instead of checking Trump, Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans are enabling him and following him down a politically motivated, irresponsible, and dangerous path.

The American people rejected Trump’s division, racism, fear and bigotry in the 2018 election, but so far it seems the GOP and McConnell didn’t learn their lesson.  As the 116th Congress gets sworn in, the question remains whether McConnell and the GOP will take co-ownership of the Trump shutdown and its consequences or if they are ready to find a sensible and mature way forward and meet a bare minimum standard of responsible governance. The markets are crashing, our economy is in a tailspin, and hundreds of thousands of government workers and their families face an uncertain future with no pay. It’s time for the GOP and McConnell to put the American people, American values and the American economy first and ahead of Trump’s political rally chant and tantrum.

Below, find excerpts from several key pieces exploring the above points:

A New York Times editorial, titled “Trump’s Shutdown Is Not About Border Security,” notes that “About 800,000 federal employees, and the citizens who depend on them, are being hurt for an empty political stunt” and underscores that the border wall and the shutdown are each incredibly unpopular.

To avoid the complex, hard work that has traditionally gone with his job, Mr. Trump has instead manufactured a political impasse over a symbol, a wall, that even his new acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, back when he was a congressman, derided as “an easy thing to sell politically” that “doesn’t really solve the problem.”

…If Mr. Trump would take the time to check in with what’s happening in the real world, he might read about the divorced Army veteran who’d worked “three jobs to survive” before getting hired as a paralegal at the Federal Trade Commission — and who now has no idea if he’ll make the rent.

…An estimated 800,000 federal workers have had their lives upended by this latest presidential temper tantrum. Some 420,000 of those, deemed “essential personnel,” are working without pay … The longer the stoppage continues, the more people will feel the squeeze.

…Mr. Trump has claimed — without evidence, naturally — that “many” federal workers have urged him to “stay out until you get the funding for the wall.” This seems unlikely considering that a recent poll by Reuters/Ipsos found that only a quarter of all Americans support the shutdown. Only 35 percent said they favored including money for the wall in a spending bill. This is, to put it mildly, not a broadly popular policy point on which the president is holding the nation hostage.

A separate New York Times op-ed by Jordan Bruneau, a senior policy analyst at the Republican-leaning Becoming American Initiative, highlights how xenophobia backfired on Republicans in the 2018 midterms and makes the case for why Republicans should rethink their embrace of Trump-ism and anti-immigrant policies and politics. With the midterms delivering a harsh rebuke of the Trump/GOP homestretch focus on immigration, is the GOP really set to double down on the exact approach that backfired? Regarding Trump and the shutdown, Bruneau writes:

if he doesn’t compromise, if he instead continues to try to transform his once proudly pro-growth party into the anti-immigration party, he will threaten Republican prospects for a generation.

November’s midterm elections provided a clear indication that Mr. Trump’s strident positions on immigration were not widely popular. Ignoring the pleas of top Republicans, the president made the elections a referendum on the issue, vowing to end birthright citizenship, sending the military to deal with a caravan of asylum seekers and championing fringe legislation to cut legal immigration in half.

House Republicans paid dearly for Mr. Trump’s gambit. They lost 40 seats, mostly in suburban districts, many of which were longtime Republican bastions whose younger, moderate, college-educated and female voters turned out for Democrats … Those results suggest Mr. Trump may be doing to the national Republican Party what Pete Wilson did to the party in California in the 1990s.