Politics & Policy

The 92 Percent Schumer Shutdown Is Now 100 Percent Kaput

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks after the Democratic policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, January 9, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
It's all on the Democrats.

Should historians look back at the federal government’s just-ended closure as the Trump Shutdown or the Schumer Shutdown? If President Donald J. Trump had vetoed a last-minute spending bill, thus denying the U.S. government operational cash, this really would have been the Trump Shutdown. However, no such funding legislation ever reached the Oval Office. Trump could not have vetoed a measure that never landed on his desk.

Had Trump cast the tie-breaking Senate vote that doomed a stopgap fiscal plan, then this would have been the Trump Shutdown. But, of course, President Trump cannot vote in the Senate. Only Vice President Mike Pence can do so, to break ties. Nothing like that happened this time.

All of the decisions that triggered the three-day shutdown happened on Capitol Hill, and Democrats voted overwhelmingly to shut the federal government. Republicans voted in equally overwhelming numbers to keep the government open for business.

On Thursday at 7:36 p.m., the House voted on H.R. 195, the Federal Register Printing Savings Act. This obscure bill was used as the delivery vehicle for the funds needed to keep the government open for four weeks. This measure passed the Republican-led body 230 to 197. Of the 235 Republicans who participated, 224 voted yea, to keep the government humming along. Eleven Republicans voted nay. Among 192 Democrats, there were 186 nays and 6 yeas. So, 97 percent of House Democrats voted to padlock the federal government, but only 5 percent of Republicans concurred.

After clearing the GOP House, H.R. 195 proceeded to the Senate. On Friday at 10:14 p.m., the Senate voted on a cloture motion to end debate and approach a final decision. Sixty votes were required for approval.

Forty-five of 49 Senate Democrats (92 percent) voted against cloture and, thus, to shutter the government. Meanwhile, four out of 50 Senate Republicans (8 percent) also voted to close the government. (Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky voted that way, too, but only so that he later could introduce a motion to reconsider. I excluded his vote from this calculation.)

To recap, 97 percent of House Democrats and 92 percent of Senate Democrats voted to close the federal government, stop paying American troops, block money to the U.S. Border Patrol, and deny medical care to some 9 million children (yes, the children!) enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The House Republicans’ wide majority overwhelmed Democrats’ votes. But Senate Republicans’ wafer-thin majority, and the 60-vote approval threshold, empowered Democrats to sandbag this measure and — as they desired — shut down the federal government.

So, yes: Senate Democrats triggered the Schumer Shutdown. The president did not force them to vote this way. Senate Democrats are many things, but they are not Donald J. Trump’s puppets.

The Wall Street Journal’s Mary Kissel recalled some core truths on Fox News Channel’s Sunday Morning Futures.

Intransigent Democrats blocked funds to keep the government open for 325 million Americans until permanent protection could be offered to the non-Americans in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But DACA was an unconstitutional decree that Obama simply penned, as if he were King Barack I. He complained that Congress did not pass the DREAM Act, designed to end potential deportation for some 800,000 illegal aliens brought to America by their parents, essentially without their permission.

Obama lacked the power to do this. Likewise, if President Trump had asked Congress to lower the business tax rate to zero percent, and Congress failed to enact such a bill, he could not simply concoct the Deep Appreciation for Corporate Assets initiative, call it DACA II, and then encourage CEOs to stop paying corporate tax.

President Trump ended Obama’s equally lawless edict. Following the Constitution and the rule of law, Trump urged Congress to do its job and pass legislation to do what Obama did by fiat: address the future of these illegals who came to America under parental supervision. President Trump gave Congress until March 5 to legislate a solution to this situation.

However, rather than legislate, Senate Democrats shut down the entire government, presumably to demand passage of a bill that is not even written yet, and which they refuse to write. In so doing, they voted down a spending plan brimming with things that they favor and devoid of things that they dislike.

“The bill that they’re opposing is a bill that they support, which is just baffling to us,” House speaker Paul Ryan explained Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation. “What’s so baffling about this was we were negotiating in good faith on DACA all the same. We actually want to solve this problem. So it’s not as if we were saying, ‘No way, no how . . . no discussions.’ They blew up the negotiations that were already underway.”

Democrats voted down a spending plan brimming with things that they favor and devoid of things that they dislike.

Before caving in so dramatically on Monday morning, why had Senate Democrats labored so sedulously to leave this problem unsolved? Simple: They hate President Trump’s guts, and they wanted to embarrass him and the GOP, in order to boost Democratic electoral prospects in the November mid-term elections. They did this to enflame their base.

The Schumer Shutdown was not about the “children of DACA.” It was about the votes of Democrats.


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— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor with National Review Online.

Editor’s Note: The headline of this article has been updated since its original publication.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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