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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Governance by crisis
by Tom Sullivan

Photo credit: National Parks Conservation Association (2013)
On the first anniversary of Donald Trump's inauguration, the federal government shut down.
Once again, dysfunction in Washington has stopped the money flowing from the Beltway outward. The Great American Shutdown has returned for an encore season. For how long, no one knows. But the time spent finger pointing will probably get in the way of resolving the impasse. That and the lies.

Jonathan Swan obtained an internal memo from staff at Justice and Homeland Security detailing objections to the immigration deal. Calling it spin is generous. Kevin Drum notes that while there is a kernel of truth to every section, this is Republicans lying to themselves about what is in the Durbin/Graham proposal on DACA. Drum's notes:

And so in the fullness of time came the vote late last night whether to vote on continuing resolution the nth to provide funding for government operations for another couple of weeks. It would be the fourth temporary spending measure passed in this fiscal year, and the first shutdown since 2013. The vote did not end well. The president had to cancel his golf trip to Florida.

Politico reports:
On a 50-49 vote that closed shortly after midnight, the Senate rejected a patchwork funding measure that would stave off a shutdown for four more weeks. Most Senate Democrats and a small handful of Republicans voted to filibuster the House-passed bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he will offer a new stopgap measure that would fund the government for just three more weeks, until Feb. 8. The vote will not occur immediately early Saturday morning, McConnell said.
Despite the blame-throwing, it is not as if the president's flip-flopping on his own agreements had nothing to do with the chaos. In a Friday meeting with New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Shumer, the sitting president rejected the second bipartisan immigration deal in a week after saying he would sign any immigration deal Congress sent him. The problem is, no one in Washington knows what he wants (if he even does himself).

Amber Philips writes at the Washington Post:
That is a mystery to even his allies in Congress. This week, Trump cast doubt on whether he would sign a short-term spending bill to keep the government's lights on for another month, hours after his spokeswoman said he would. Hours before a precarious vote in the House of Representatives to avoid such a scenario, Trump pulled the rug out from under GOP leaders by seeming to take away their only leverage to get Democrats on board: funding the Children's Health Insurance Program.
In spite of complete Republican control of government lawmaking, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell lamented early Saturday, "Almost everybody on both sides doesn't understand how we ended up here." White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee blamed Democrats. Privately, Trump ranted about missing his one-year anniversary party.

Yet as one one guest on MSNBC observed last night, this is Republican governance by crisis. You don't have to be Naomi Klein to see the pattern. If you cannot pass your program with popular support through democratic means (or without being blamed), create a crisis and plead TINA (There Is No Alternative) for whatever you ram through during the crisis you created and blame on your opponents. This is a government where normal order is disorder.

The unanswered question this morning: Is this the shutdown Trump wanted or the one he didn't?

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