Senate Can’t Win If It Fears Government Shutdown

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has refused to allow a government shutdown, thus destroying his own power.

President Obama And Vice President Biden Meet With Members Of Congress On Foreign Policy

As I have pointed out before, Congress’ main power is the power of the purse. If House or Senate officials are unwilling to use that power, they cannot possibly constrain the President.

Thus, Mitch McConnell’s pledge not to shut down the government has led him into a dead end. As the Washington Post reports, “McConnell, after his no-shutdowns pledge, quickly finds himself boxed in.”

Less than six weeks on his powerful Capitol Hill perch, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is on the verge of watching one of his most important promises — to never again shut down the government — go up in smoke.

Lawmakers on Friday began a 10-day hiatus, leaving them just four days when they return to pass funding for the Department of Homeland Security to avoid the shutdown of a key federal agency. The DHS budget fight follows an effort among GOP conservatives to roll back President Obama’s recent executive orders on immigration.

Conservatives are adamant that the security agency should be funded only if the legislation also overrules Obama’s orders, which prevent the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants. But Senate Democrats, even the few who oppose Obama’s moves, have blocked the House-passed legislation with repeated filibusters.

That has left McConnell trapped inside a legislative box that he had vowed to avoid — and one that for the previous four years his close ally, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), frequently wandered into without an exit strategy.

First of all, DHS is not a “key federal agency.” The fear that Americans would be universally outraged at its defunding is a preposterous claim.

Secondly, even the shutdown of a “key federal agency” is not the same thing as a government shutdown.

Third, given what is at stake in executive amnesty, a government shutdown would be well worth the risk.

Fourth, how was John Boehner or the Congress hurt by “wandering into” a shutdown “without an exit strategy”? They shut down the government and then swept both Congress and the Senate. In what world does that count a failure on the part of Republicans?

If a “full” government shutdown cost them nothing, why would a shutdown of merely Homeland Security be so bad for them?