The shutdown is Trump’s fault. Make no mistake about that. About the only consistent thing he has done over the past few days is undermine Senate negotiations with his inconsistency.
On January 9, Trump held the famous televised meeting with Republican and Democratic senators that touched on DACA, immigration reform, and funding the wall, among other things. Trump contradicted himself several times during the meeting, but in the end he said he would sign whatever deal Congress could cobble together.Â Â “I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with,” Trump said. “If they come to me with things I’m not in love with, I’m going to do it. Because I respect them.”
So on January 11, Democratic Senator Richard Durbin called Trump and said he and Lindsey Graham had a bipartisan agreement. Trump was said to have expressed approval, over the phone. But by the time Graham and Durbin got to the White House later that day, Trump had changed his mind andÂ killed the agreement.
On Wednesday, January 17, Sarah Sanders told the assembled reporters thatÂ â€œwe do support the short-term CRâ€ with a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
On Thursday, January 18, Trump tweeted,
CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!
â€” Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
Of this, Dana Milbank wrote,
There was so much head-scratching at the Capitol, they had to bring in a Zamboni to clear all the dandruff.
As The Post reported, Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the chamberâ€™s No. 3 Republican, said he was â€œat a loss.â€
Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), the No. 2 Republican, chalked it up to presidential confusion: â€œI donâ€™t know whether itâ€™s clear to the president.â€
AndÂ Sen. Lindsey O. GrahamÂ (R-S.C.) gave voice to the grievance of many: â€œWe donâ€™t have a reliable partner at the White House to negotiate with.â€Â …
…Â A plaintiveÂ Sen. Mitch McConnellÂ (R-Ky.), the majority leader, essentially threw up his hands over immigration talksÂ thisÂ week: â€œIâ€™m looking for something that President Trump supports, and heâ€™s not yet indicated what measure heâ€™s willing to sign. As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I will be convinced that we were not just spinning our wheels.â€
I liked this bit:
The New Testament warns: â€œFor if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?â€ Trump isnâ€™t playing an uncertain trumpet so much as he is randomly switching between aÂ vuvuzelaÂ and a slide whistle.
Yesterday, according to Michael Shear and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, Trump and Chuck Schumer met for lunch and made a last-ditch attempt to work out a deal.
The negotiations between Mr. Trump and Mr. Schumer, fellow New Yorkers who have known each other for years, began when the president called Mr. Schumer on Friday morning, giving the White House staff almost no heads-up. In a lengthy phone conversation, both men agreed to seek a permanent spending deal rather than the stopgap measure being negotiated by lawmakers on Capitol Hill. …
…Â As the meal progressed, an outline of an agreement was struck, according to one person familiar with the discussion: Mr. Schumer said yes to higher levels for military spending and discussed the possibility of fully funding the presidentâ€™s wall on the southern border with Mexico. In exchange, the president agreed to support legalizing young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.
Mr. Schumer left the White House believing he had persuaded the president to support a short, three to four-day spending extension to finalize an agreement, which would also include disaster funding and health care measures.
I bet you can guess what happened next: Trump changed his mind.
â€œIn my heart, I thought we might have a deal tonight,â€ Mr. Schumer recalled later on the Senate floor, shortly after the governmentÂ officially shut downat midnight. At 11:55 p.m., he had been greeted with a blistering White House statement that â€œSenate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown.â€
What wasn’t happening yesterday were negotiations within the Senate. Jennifer Rubin:
McConnellâ€™s lack of urgency today was stunning.Â This situation is akin to a labor contract negotiation leading up to a strike deadline. Not to have a single joint meeting with Democrats and the president or exchange any proposals in the final day represents a stunning level of irresponsibility. RepublicansÂ control both houses and the White House; not to make every effort to initiate talks and find a solution suggestsÂ they no longer know how to cut deals.
Finally, having a self-described dealmaker in the Oval Office was worthless, since the dealmaker is totally incapable of mastering policy details, expressing a policy preference (and sticking with it for more than an hour) and moving both sides to conclusion. This is what comes from electing someone entirely in over his head. It did not help that Trump reportedlyÂ whined to staffÂ about missing his party at Mar-a-Lago. His reputation as a man-child remains intact.
The art of the deal? See alsoÂ He couldn’t negotiate his way out of a paper bag by Digby.
They had more than one bipartisan deal on the table that could have passed both houses. Trump said no. The government is now shut down. Mitch McConnell couldn’t even muster 50 GOP votes much less the addition ten Democrats he needed to break the filibuster. Only essential workers will be working until this is ended. And who knows when that will be?
He didn’t understand the deal and is clearly being led around by the nose by the hardliners. But he also only cares about his base. Maybe it’s time that we recognize and deal with the fact that theyÂ wantÂ him to deport the DREAMers and ban Muslims and throw black people in jail.
That’s the kind of people they are. He knows this. They want a white America. That’s what this is about.
BTW, five Democrats voted yes last night, and five Republicans voted no. If McConnell had gotten every Republican vote and kept the five Democratic votes, last night’s measure would have passed. So, strictly speaking, it really wasn’t just the Democrats who killed the deal.
I am not aware that there is any constitutional requirement to get the president to agree to a negotiation before it’s voted on in the Senate. The Senate should just ignore Trump and pass something. That something might be nixed by the House, but if it isn’t, then it should be sent to Trump to sign no matter what he says about it. Then, if he vetoes it, he owns it. Indeed, he owns the mess we’re in already as far as I’m concerned.