On Thursday January 3rd, the first day of the 116th Congress, the House of Representatives passed two bills aimed at ending the partial government shut-down. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has, so far, refused to bring the bills up for consideration in the Senate. He has repeatedly stated that he will not present funding measures without the President’s indication that he will sign them. The President won’t sign anything without substantial funding for the wall. So, the partial shut-down continues because of Republicans. Why would McConnell take this risk?
Because, Mitch McConnell knows that the majority of Americans only care about a shutdown when their National Parks are closed. Sure, the media will beat the drum of impending doom for every minute that the shutdown continues. DC pundits will wail and gnash their teeth as well, but that is where the drama will stay. McConnell knows that few remember the details of the 2013 shutdown, or even care that it occurred. He also knows that the news cycle has only accelerated since 2013. Today’s crisis is tomorrow’s “what?”
Senator McConnell also knows that Trump’s base was, if not fractured, at least shaken by the abrupt departure of Secretary Mattis. The base needs foundation re-enforcement and the quickest way to accomplish that is by fighting for the issues Trump was elected on. The wall gives the Senate and the President an opportunity to prove that “they fight”, as the base Republicans have wished for. McConnell is up for re-election in 2020. Kentucky is Trump country. McConnell will run multiple ads reminding people of how he stood by the President. While the voters of the Commonwealth will not remember the details of the shut-down, or even the deal that ended it, they will be happy of the reminder that McConnell supported their President.
Cocaine Mitch knows that the President will strike a deal with Pelosi at some point. President Trump will look like the hero, even if he receives no additional border wall funding. McConnell also knows that until that time, the shut-down isn’t damaging Republicans in any meaningful way. So, expect the Senate Majority Leader to smile benignly for the cameras for the foreseeable future. He’ll be the real winner at the end of this.