As federal workers continue to go without pay in the nation’s longest government shutdown on record, congressional staffers have predicted it will take a situation causing nationwide panic to bring it to an end.
President Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer remain at odds over Trump’s requested $5 billion to fund a border wall, which has delayed the passing of a spending bill that would reopen government.
Support staff told The Atlantic, on condition of anonymity, that they guess it will take something like a widespread food safety scare, plane crash or terrorist attack to get both sides to compromise on a budget that’s needed to get things up and running again.
The Republican-controlled Senate, however, could cooperate with House Democrats to bring the shutdown to an end, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t allow it.
As federal workers continue to go without pay in the nation’s longest government shutdown on record, congressional staffers predict it will take nationwide panic to bring it to an end. President Donald Trump (pictured), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer cannot agree on funding for a border wall, which has delayed the passing of a spending bill that would reopen government
‘This is all pageantry,’ a Democratic House aide said. ‘It’s going to take a big national event to move things. I mean, we’re at a standstill.’
The agencies that are affected by the shutdown right now are the Environmental Protection Agency, the IRS, and the departments of State, Housing and Urban Development; Treasury; Agriculture; Commerce; Interior; Justice; and Homeland Security.
Funding for food stamps will run out in March, which one senior Republican Senate staffer said may be enough to finally bring the stalemate to an end.
‘Not only are there going to be a lot of hungry families,’ he said, ‘but there are going to be a lot of Walmarts and Safeways and Krogers that are missing revenue.’
Beyond the bottom line of major businesses, Republican strategist Doug Heye noted lapses in inspections by the FDA could causes enough uproar to make Congress and the president act.
‘We saw what happened with romaine lettuce a few weeks ago,’ Heye said.
‘You give that same kind of scare to a ranch in California, and all of a sudden not only do everyone’s beef prices go up, but there’s a mass panic.’
Other aides wondered whether a plane crash caused by an over-stressed air traffic controller, or terrorist incident would have to happen to end the shutdown.
Republican lawmakers close to the White House have ventured a guess that it will take TSA employees calling out sick and leaving ‘American furious about their flights,’ the Washington Post’s Robert Costa tweeted on Tuesday.
For now, the military (aside from the US Coast Guard) and the departments of Veterans Affairs; Labor; Education; and Health and Human Services are not impacted, as they are being funded by a spending bill that doesn’t expire until September 30.
At least at its current level, not everyone is worried about the appearance the deadlock is giving off.
‘While it may be horrible for the country,’ a Democratic staffer said of the shutdown, ‘it’s fine for the party.’
Republicans could work with Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (left) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (right), without Trump, to pass a spending bill but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t allow it
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (pictured) has noted that he won’t allow anything to come to a vote in the Senate that won’t ultimately be signed into law by Trump, or that he says won’t pass the Senate. The House and Senate could override a veto by Trump on a budget bill, but it would require a two-thirds vote in both bodies, and McConnell has exclusive control over what goes to a vote on the Senate floor, under its current rules
The staffer may be on to something, especially because Republicans actually could choose to work with Democrats on their own, without the president, to pass a funding bill.
McConnell, a Republican US Senator for the state of Kentucky, has now twice blocked a bill that had had passed in the Democratic-majority-controlled House which aimed to reopened all aspects of government, this second time except for the Department of Homeland Security.
McConnell has noted that he won’t allow anything to come to a vote in the Senate that won’t ultimately be signed into law by Trump, or that he says won’t pass the Senate.
‘The Senate will not waste its time considering a Democratic bill, which cannot pass this chamber and which the president will not sign,’ McConnell said before the Senate on January 2, a mere 12 days into the shutdown.
What McConnell didn’t say is that the House and Senate could override a veto by Trump on a budget bill, but it would require a two-thirds vote in both bodies.
And McConnell has exclusive control over what goes to a vote on the Senate floor, under its current rules.
‘Under the rules of the Senate, McConnell can control which legislation reaches the floor, and he has chosen not to allow a vote on any bill that Trump would veto,’ Amanda Frost, Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law, told WUSA9’s Verify team.
‘McConnell also refused to allow hearings or a vote on Obama’s supreme court nominee. The Senate can change its rules anytime, but there is nothing unconstitutional about creating them and abiding by them.’
The federal government has been partially shut down since December 22, making Friday the 28th day that approximately 800,000 federal employees have been either required to work without pay for the time being, or be furloughed.
Congress has already passed a bill that guarantees that federal workers who are still showing up to their jobs without pay will be paid for their work once the shutdown ends.
The previous longest-lasting government shutdown in history happened at the end of 1995 and beginning of 1996, lasting 21 days under President Bill Clinton.
‘The solution to this is a negotiation between the one person in the country who can sign something into law, the president of the United States, and our Democratic colleagues,’ McConnell said on Tuesday.