Today marks the one year anniversary of President Trumps Inauguration. It is a day to look back and reflect on the actions of the administration and our government under it. With a record breaking economy, a tax bill passed that will soon bring more money home to all Americans, the lowest unemployment rate in the 45 years since it began being tracked, ISIS is on the run and illegal immigration at record lows you would think the nation as a whole would have reason to celebrate. Instead we woke up to the news that Congress had decided to give to the president, his administration and all Americans on this most auspicious of days the gift of a government shutdown.
The irony of it all is that neither side of the isle wishes to claim credit for this gift.
Instead we are left with both sides believing they are on “the right side of history” and are expecting the political ramifications to befall the other. Democrats will insist that with the Republicans owning the White House, The House of Representatives and The Senate that the blame clearly lies with them because they are in complete control of the government. Republicans will insist that it is the Democrats own the blame for insisting that we tie the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to the budget vote when it has nothing to do with funding our government and is not slated to end until March giving plenty of time to address it at a later vote. Both parties have spent countless hours giving interviews, tweeting and publishing statements explaining how their side is right, the other side is wrong and why the blame ultimately lies with them – not us. Regardless of either narrative make no mistake that those who truly own this government shutdown are the American people who will be directly impacted by a government that failed to do the most basic of tasks that we all do on a regular basis. Create a budget that supports our fundamental needs.
I try to form my political opinions based on the facts as we know them today. So I went to GovTrack.us to see how the votes played out in regards to H.R. 195. You can also see the vote results at Senate.Gov as well. Below is the info graphic from GovTrack.us that shows the breakdown for your convenience.
(** see updates below dated 21 JAN 2018 for corrective information on the next paragraph)
** The Republican controlled Senate has a 51 vote majority, which is not the 60 votes required in order to pass a resolution. This means that bipartisan participation was a must from the Democratic Senators. As you can see all 50 Republicans who were present to vote did in fact vote for the resolution. The only missing vote is Senator McCain, who is absent while undergoing cancer treatment. Only five Democrats voted for H.R. 195 that brought it to a total of 55. They are Heidi Heitkamp(ND), Doug Jones(AL), Claire McCaskill(MO), Joe Donnelly(IN) and Joe Manchin(WV). It is of note to point out that all of these Democratic Senators are up for re-election this November with the exception of Doug Jones. As expected the remaining 42 Democrats held to their party line and voted “Nay” along with both Independents bringing the final tally to 44. **
Given the raw numbers this vote reeks of partisanship to its core. The Democrats talk of bipartisanship buy-in to the budget was just that – all talk, as shown by their actions in how they voted. Doug Jones is excused from that assessment since he had no political motive I am aware of to vote in favor of the resolution other than to do what is best for the American people. Every other Democrat who voted for the resolution did so because they want to win back their seat in November and wanted to look favorable to President Trump and his base supporters come election time. Make no mistake that those four Senators understand that the middle class Americans in fly-over states who won the White House in 2016 for President Trump are satisfied with the first year he has spent in office and are a force at the voting booths. President Trump will continue pushing in the years to come for more of his agenda that those Americans ardently want and voted for. Though hard core leftist Democrats will argue that those Americans do not reflect the popular vote, Republicans will ultimately fire back that regardless of that fact they still have the votes to win the electoral college. When the cards are finally laid upon the table, that is the only thing that truly matters.
Government shutdowns are nothing new and likely will continue to be weaponized in the future in order to try and attain passage of pieces of legislation like DACA where they have no business being. So what exactly does this mean for the 2018 midterm elections and how will it impact voters decisions at the ballot box? There are two factors that will determine the impact of this shutdown come November.
The first being how long Democrats and Republicans will allow it to go on. The sooner it is over, the sooner it will be forgotten as historically most people have short-term memories for politics.
The second will be how they handle making reparations to those who will be impacted by it the most like our military personnel who will go without pay after February 1st. Treat those individuals fairly and likely the voters will respond in kind to whichever party their loyalties lie.
But a point of caution to both parties.
When I said a moment ago that historically most people have short-term memories for politics, I worded it that way for a very specific reason. 2016 was a momentous victory for the middle class Americans who have felt forgotten and abandoned for the last eight years. They are finally seeing someone in the White House who is actually making efforts almost daily to try and keep the promises they made during the election and to give control of the country back to the people where it ultimately belongs.
The American people are awake. We are watching, making notes and committing to our long term memory what our government does and does not do. More and more of us are now using our votes to hold those who represent us accountable. We will make sure you remember who put you in office and exactly who it is you work for. We are tired of the continuation of politics as usual and the stagnation in our government that is incapable of providing the results we not only deserve but are in desperate need of having as a nation. If you choose to ignore that, then be prepared to lose your seat in the next election cycle.
It really doesn’t get any more simple than that.
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**Last updated: 21 JAN 2018 @ 2:38pmCT
The infographic provided yesterday was for the motion to table HR 195 and was not the correct vote count that was held under cloture. I have updated the infographic along with the hyperlinks to show the correct information. A link to the motion to table HR195 is provided here to retain historical information from my piece.
My updated thoughts on the vote are provided below now that I have the correct information.
In reviewing the correct information and what a “yea” vote would have represented I understand why five Republican Senators voted against the motion. I do not, however, agree with their actions. Republicans cannot point the blame of a government shutdown on Chuck Schumer and the Democratic party when their own majority leader votes against proceeding to a final vote along with four other Republican Senators. This only goes to strengthen my opinion that again this vote fell along party lines and was partisan in nature.
Per GovTrack.us they indicated, and I quote “The details of what the final Senate bill would have included were not known at the time of the vote but reportedly would have included an extension of the children’s health insurance program CHIP, reinstatement of deferred action for childhood illegal immigrants DACA, as well as border security provisions such as a southern wall.” How can you possibly blame the other party when you will not even vote to see what the final legislation will have? I can only assume they saw what it would entail and voted accordingly but to not include this in your commentary chastising the Democratic leadership is disingenuous.
As I alluded to in the beginning of this piece, both parties have ownership in the government shutdown. Their inability to work together and come to an agreement reinforces the notion that many American citizens have of our government, which is to say that they are incapable of governing and unable to focus on what is the right thing to do for the country.
Is this a political stunt by the Democrats just to have a shutdown on the anniversary of President Trumps inauguration? Do they want to see him give the State of the Union Address under a government shutdown? Are Republicans playing a dangerous game of appearing to be bipartisan while secretly not being willing to find a compromise for DACA? A better question is when will Congress quit playing political games and do the job we sent them there to do?