The House has passed a bill to reopen the federal government without funding for a border wall. Senate Republicans should pass it without delay.
On Thursday night, the new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would end the government shutdown, meaning the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who have been either working without pay or on furlough can return to work.
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) promised, the bill does not include funding for a border wall, which President Trump has demanded. In an impromptu press briefing Thursday after the election of Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker — in which Trump took no questions — the president promised to not reopen the government without wall funding as the shutdown threatens to drag on into a third week.
“We’re not doing a wall. Does anyone have any doubt that we’re not doing a wall?” Pelosi said.
Speaker Pelosi has at least one Republican ally in Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), who said Thursday that his party should vote to reopen the government without the $5 billion in border wall funding that Trump called for.
“I think we should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open. The Senate has done it last Congress, we should do it again today,” said Gardner, who is up for re-election in a state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.
However, Gardner appears to be the lone Republican with that position. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), one of the president’s most outspoken supporters, said Trump signing a bill to reopen the government without initial border wall funding would be “the end of his presidency.”
“If [Trump] gives in now, that’s the end of 2019, in terms of him being an effective president,” Sen. Graham told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
Even if Trump were to do an about-face and reopen the government without his border wall funding by the end of the week, federal workers still wouldn’t receive a paycheck until the end of January, according to CBS News. Because the automated payment system for federal workers takes several business days to reboot, the earliest federal employees would see a paycheck would be January 25, and that’s only under the most optimistic of expectations.
In the meantime, as the shutdown drags on, the daily lives of not only the 800,000+ affected federal workers are disrupted, but also the lives of the millions of Americans who depend on them. The IRS, for example, won’t be able to process tax refunds that many Americans are counting on. And as Grit Post previously reported, approximately eight million Americans aren’t getting nutrition assistance through offices like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
Given the stark realities faced by millions of Americans and their families, and given that the House has already passed a funding bill, the onus is now on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to bring the bill to reopen the government up for a vote in his chamber and urge his colleagues to pass it for the good of the country. And if Trump vetoes the bill, senators have both the constitutional authority and the moral obligation to override it. Their constituents are counting on them to act in their interests, not in the interests of the president.