Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday that he would terminate the Senate’s summer recess. And, that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you know we are entering a precarious midterm election cycle.
Since the GOP was given majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate and won the White House in 2016, the Republican Party has been doing its level-best to stymie and complicate President Donald Trump’s agenda. Now that their jobs might be on the line, the Republicans understand that they have to throw Trump a bone or two, in order to (they hope) galvanize his unique base of voters.
Many take this announcement from McConnell as cause to celebrate that the Republicans are finally getting off their backsides and at least appearing to legislate. But caution is in order. It may well be that this is all for show. Yes, the Democrats have an influential minority in the Senate, but overall, the Republicans have had all the cards in this legislative session and until now they have refused to push back against Democratic chicanery.
Why would they?
For too many of them, their little fiefdom in the Emerald City is more important than the well-being of the country. Moreover, many of them loathe Donald Trump and all of the people who voted for him. Thus, the GOPe will do little actually to implement an agenda that the president, the leader of their own party, supports. Why would they want to help him succeed when his success makes them look bad?
The real reason that McConnell has opted to reveal himself to the voters at this time is because the pressure now is sufficient that he needs to appear as though he’s doing something that Trump wants done (when, in actuality, he is ensuring that his—and therefore The Swamp’s—agenda is being pushed through). At the passage of the last obscene $1.3 trillion spending bill, the president warned Congress that that was the last time he’d ever do anything like that again.
Regardless of the president’s words, a core of his supporters (myself included) realized the damage that had been done. The next spending bill was set for September. If there’s one thing that the GOPe members hate more than Trump and his deplorable voters from Fly-Over Country, it is the prospect of a government shutdown. McConnell is not certain that Trump’s promise never to support another windfall for Washington, D.C. again was simply for show or if he was serious. Though, given the public consternation displayed by most of Trump’s most ardent supporters, it is likely that Trump was being serious. He will not want to disappoint them again.
By keeping the Senate in session over the summer, McConnell is hoping to get the proverbial jump on Trump over the issue of government spending. Also, McConnell knows that the lack of confirmations for President Trump’s appointments is a terrible threat to Republican chances going into the midterm election.
To be fair, the Democrats have been complicating the Republican efforts to get those Trump picks confirmed, through a process known colloquially as “slow-walking” (using bureaucratic machinations and obscure Senate rules to slow the normal confirmation process down). But, this should have been assumed by the “experts” in the GOPe. What is utterly inexplicable is why the elected Republicans have not made a bigger issue of the Democratic Party’s unfair (and unnecessary) stalling over the last two years.
It’s obvious now that many of the Republicans in Congress don’t want to approve some of these appointments either. They like having the Trump Administration operating at half-strength. The GOPe believes that it gives them an advantage when dealing with the White House. Remember, this is all about the GOPe keeping its power (even though most of its voters have become Trump supporters) and ensuring that Trumpism does not take hold in Washington, D.C.
Now that the midterms are happening soon, McConnell is going to intervene.
He wants to raise a proverbial stink about Democratic intransigence, in order to galvanize the Republican voters (without acknowledging that he could have helped resolve these problems months ago). Since this is going to happen in a slapdash way, whatever McConnell accomplishes with appointments will be superficial at best. And, when it comes to any potential government spending, he will simply put it off until after the midterms, believing that a shutdown would empower the Democrats going into November of 2018.
We elected Donald Trump to change fundamentally the way Washington, D.C. works and to reverse the fundamental transformation President Obama wrought during his two terms. Part of changing the capital, though, means replacing the other elected leaders there with officials who are in sync with the American people as well. Trump’s agenda will never take root unless he has backing from the Legislative Branch—starting with his own party. That will never happen so long as the GOPe is running things in the Legislative Branch.
Going forward, it would behoove all conscientious voters to work assiduously to remove the weak GOPe leaders in favor of Republicans who fundamentally understand the movement that Trump represented in 2016, and to build off it rather than fight it.
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