The government shutdown is starting to create trouble within Republican ranks as GOP senators reportedly blamed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for the mess during a lunch meeting on Thursday prior to a vote on two competing bills to end the standoff.
The two pieces of legislation came to the Senate floor on the 34th day of the government shutdown, one that includes President Donald Trump’s demand of $5.7 billion for his wall and the plan passed by House Democrats to fund the government through February 8th without wall funding, which Senate Republicans had passed in December before Trump rejected it.
But before those bills came up for a vote, Republican senators engaged in a private lunch during which many yelled at McConnell.
According to the Washington Post:
Republican senators clashed with one another and confronted Vice President Pence inside a private luncheon on Thursday, as anger hit a boiling point over the longest government shutdown in history.
“This is your fault,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at one point, according to two Republicans who attended the lunch and witnessed the exchange.
“Are you suggesting I’m enjoying this?” McConnell snapped back, according to the people who attended the lunch.
The outbursts highlighted the toll the shutdown has taken on Republican lawmakers, who are dealing with growing concerns from constituents and blame from Democrats, all while facing pressure from conservatives to stand with Trump in his demand for money to build a wall on the border with Mexico.
Republican lawmakers also expressed frustration to Vice-President Mike Pence, although Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) insisted that none of them blamed Trump for the shutdown.
According to The Hill:
“McConnell talked about how we need to bring this process to a close; we should never have had a shutdown; they don’t work; I’ve said this numerous times; I don’t know how many times I’ve told you there’s no education in the second kick of a mule,” said a GOP source familiar with the meeting.
So, when the two bills came up for votes, only one Democrat voted for Trump’s fake “compromise” offer and three Republicans voted against it.
The Democratic bill, on the other hand, had the support of six Republicans but still did not pass, but it was still the more popular of the two proposals on the table, which is in line with the majority of Americans who support the House Democrat plan.
Polls also show that most Americans blame Trump for the shutdown and more now blame Republicans than Democrats.
Clearly, Republicans are starting to crack under the pressure as the shutdown drags on. Most Americans definitely blame the GOP and Trump for it and it’s going to hurt their election chances in 2020 if it causes more and more pain across the country. It is hurting the economy and national security, 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed or are working without pay and the domino effect will only result in more problems that Republicans are going to be blamed for if they don’t stand up to Trump, who took complete ownership of the shutdown in December before rejecting the funding resolution that would have prevented it in the first place.
Democrats are holding all the cards right now. It’s just a matter of time before Republicans are forced to fold.
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