Sunday, January 20, 2019

Mitch Switch

Yellow-headed temple turtle with retracted head, via Wildscreen Arkive.

The weirdest thing about Trump's dead-in-the-water proposals (for $5.7 billion he'll free the 800,000 hostages he took over Christmas and ensure a three-year air supply to hundreds of thousands of immigrant hostages he took earlier in the year) is McConnell's evidently positive response: he'd been saying for weeks that he wouldn't allow a budget bill on the Senate floor unless it was something Trump and Democrats had both signed onto, and now he says he's ready to push this one, although it's completely unacceptable to Democrats:
This bill takes a bipartisan approach [his office announces] to re-opening the closed portions of the federal government. It pairs the border security investment that our nation needs with additional immigration measures that both Democrat and Republican members of Congress believe are necessary. Unlike the bills that have come from the House over the past few weeks, this proposal could actually resolve this impasse. It has the full support of the President and could be signed into law to quickly reopen the government.
[Narrator: nobody including McConnell believes the immigration measures on offer are "necessary" or sufficient, for that matter; the DACA recipients are safe for another year at least anyway, since the Supreme Court has turned down the administration's request to hear their their arguments that the program is illegal; and in October the administration's attempt to take away Temporary Protected Status from 300,000 Haitians, Sudanese, Nicaraguans, and Salvadorans was found unconstitutional by Judge Edward Chen in California's Northern District, and another TPS case in New York will be getting through its first round in March, and who knows how long the appeals on these cases will stretch, with the odds better than even that Trump will turn out not to have the power to wreck the programs anyway:

A federal trial in New York challenging the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for thousands of Haitians, concluded Thursday with internal government emails showing that the administration was so determined to end the program that it ignored its own government’s research flagging health and safety concerns.
The White House's eagerness to keep the emperor happy at all costs keeps forcing them to stretch the law where the courts just can't accommodate them, and hastening the doom of everything that they do attempt to do.]

It seems pretty clear what's going on here on the surface; McConnell was simply lying about what bills he would and wouldn't entertain—he was simply keeping his head inside his shell, as it were (a hashtag that started circulating asked "#WheresMitch") while waiting for somebody else to make a move, as the White House has now at long last done with Trump's "address" yesterday afternoon (announced for 3:00, it didn't happen until 4:00, and I'll bet there's a story behind that). Now, presumably, the strategy is to offer a Senate bill that can get all the Republican senators on board but can't get the 60 votes it needs in the hopes of shifting the blame for the shutdown to Democratic shoulders, which may or may not work for them, but I wouldn't count on it, given the way the polling looks to be moving,
In a new The Hill-HarrisX poll released Monday, only 22 percent of registered voters surveyed blamed Democrats for the shutdown, while 42 percent said President Trump was to blame. One-third of voters said that both parties in Congress and the president were all equally responsible. (2 January)
compared to
The public generally is more apt to blame the President, with 55% saying he is more responsible for the shutdown than are Democrats in Congress, while 32% say the blame rests mostly with the Democrats. Another 9% say both are responsible. Democrats are more unified in their blame for the President (89% blame Trump) than are the Republican rank-and-file in blaming the Democrats (65% of Republicans blame the Democrats in Congress, 23% blame Trump). Independents are more apt to blame Trump (48% to 34%), and are most likely to say both sides are responsible (14%).(14 January)
About half of Americans (51%) said it would be unacceptable if the only way to end the shutdown was to pass a bill that includes Trump's requested funding for the border wall, according to a Pew Research Center poll released on Wednesday. On the other side, 29% said it would be unacceptable for the only end to the shutdown to come via a bill that does not include the president's requested funding for the wall. (16 January)
Another possibility occurred to me when somebody in Twitterland was noting that a normal solution would be for the Senate to pass more or less anything at all, and then send it to a conference committee to be reconciled with all the stuff the House has been passing in the meanwhile and some bill that actually meets the needs of the majority could be thrown together out of that: perhaps the bill McConnell will offer next week will be that anything at all, with a Trump-friendly title like The Trump Defeats Nasty Nancy Act of 2019 and $5.7 billion worth of fence repairs, surveillance drones, and immigration judges disguised as something Trump has demanded, allowing Trump to claim a victory and the conference to get some kind of useful job done.

The chances of anything that sensible happening aren't great, but hope is sweet, and not illegal. And Trump is such a helpless idiot:

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