ON THE HILL WITH DOUG CHRISTIAN
CAPITOL HILL – On day 34 of the government shutdown, Republican Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado sides with Democrats demanding that government be reopened now. Gardner’s announcement comes as the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brings to the floor today a pair of dueling bills: one a Republican proposal reflecting priorities President Donald Trump outlined in his Saturday address and the other a Democratic plan that calls for a short-term clean continuing resolution (CR) in advance of further negotiations.
After Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) went to the Senate floor Wednesday to seek consent for the Senate to address House bills that would fund most departments affected by the shutdown, Majority Leader McConnell blocked Sen. Kaine’s efforts with a simple parliamentary objection.
McConnell benefits from the Senate’s traditional “right of first recognition” for a Majority Leader, giving him effective control of the floor.
Whereas Republicans such as Sens. Gardner and Susan Collins (R-Maine) of Maine may be swaying toward the left, observers will carefully eye moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) from West Virginia and Doug Jones (D-Ala.) from Alabama to see if they veer right.
In a larger sense, the power struggle surrounding the shutdown fight is a test between the President’s authority and a Democratically controlled House run by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and that struggle has manifested itself in a proxy fight over a venue for the State of the Union. Speaker Pelosi wrote the President saying she will not welcome him to the chamber to address the nation until the government was reopened. President Trump relented even as he has not shifted on his demand for a southern border wall.
Doug Christian, Capitol Hill