(EDITOR’S NOTE, 1/7/19, 2:37 PM ET: This article has been updated to include rules for cloture on moving bills through the U.S. Senate.)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has taken heed of calls by his colleagues to block all bills until the government shutdown is over.
ABC News reported Monday that Schumer notified the Senate Democratic Caucus that he would vote against a bill authorizing more money to support for the Israeli military until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) allowed a vote on the bill to reopen the government.
As the minority leader, Schumer’s statement suggests that the caucus is united in its efforts to stall all bills until the shutdown is over. And because Senate rules require 60 votes for cloture (moving a bill to the floor for an up-or-down vote), and Republicans only have 52 seats, Democrats are still able to block votes on bills as the minority party.
Senators Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) were the first to suggest the action, both suggesting on their official Twitter accounts last weekend that Democrats should simply block votes on any and all bills until Sen. McConnell allows a vote on a bill that would end the ongoing federal government shutdown, which is now in its third week.
Senate Democrats should block consideration of any bills unrelated to opening the government until Sen. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans allow a vote on the bipartisan bills the House passed to open the government. Mitch, don’t delay. Let’s vote!
— Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) January 5, 2019
Agreed. This isn’t business as usual. This is a crisis, a fundamental failure to govern, and Americans are suffering for it.
— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) January 6, 2019
Other Senate Democrats are using their platforms to talk about the havoc the federal government shutdown is wreaking in their home states.
Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) tweeted an article about how the shutdown is affecting low-income Americans living in federally subsidized housing, calling on President Trump and Sen. McConnell to end the shutdown. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) tweeted that Trump is either ignorant or indifferent to the plight of federal workers struggling to make ends meet during the shutdown.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) tweeted an article about her recent meeting with constituents to hear about how the shutdown is affecting them, calling on McConnell to allow a vote on a bill passed by the House of Representatives last week to reopen the government. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) tweeted about how the shutdown is affecting scientific research. And Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) simply tweeted, “End the shutdown, Re-open the government. Pay our federal workers.”
The #TrumpShutdown has real consequences. The President and @senatemajldr can and should end this government shutdown by accepting bipartisan legislation to reopen the government.https://t.co/ZgIeUhPxCe
— Sen. Tammy Baldwin (@SenatorBaldwin) January 7, 2019
President Trump either doesn't understand the detrimental impact this is having on American families and our economy – or he simply doesn't care.https://t.co/8u78fdZnFv
— Martin Heinrich (@MartinHeinrich) January 7, 2019
The shutdown is bad for the economy. I met with NH farmers whose livelihoods are threatened by the shutdown and will be in major trouble if it continues. @senatemajldr must call a vote on the House's bipartisan legislation to reopen the government. https://t.co/OjpnUCLF0M
— Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (@SenatorShaheen) January 7, 2019
One of the many consequences of shutting down the government is the work being done at federal labs across the nation – including Peoria's Ag Lab. I'm headed to @USDA_ARS today to hear how the President's shutdown is impacting their work. https://t.co/FrSwCDqbxX
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) January 7, 2019
End the shutdown. Re-open the government. Pay our federal workers.
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) January 7, 2019
The government has ben shut down since late December, after President Trump said he refused to sign any funding bills without at least $5 billion in appropriations for a border wall along the Southern border with Mexico. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a bill to the senate last week that funded all federal agencies currently shut down without wall funding, and told Trump he would get no money for the wall.
As of this writing, Mitch McConnell has not stated that he would hold a vote on the House bill. However, he’s beginning to get pressure from even some members of his own party. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) tweeted Monday morning that “lives are being affected” by the shutdown, imploring Congress to re-open the government.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.