McConnell put out a perfunctory tweet trashing the proposal, saying the “rough draft of a government funding bill shamefully leaves out key relief and support that American farmers need. This is no time to add insult to injury and defund help for farmers and rural America.” He did not say he was opposed to it or that it wouldn’t end up on the Senate floor. There is very little stomach among Republicans to add a government shutdown fight to the list of things they’re dealing with before the election.
Even Sen. Joni Ernst, the embattled Iowa Republican, didn’t say she would vote against the bill. “This is no time for political games,” she said in a statement. “I’m calling on all of my farm-state colleagues in the House and the Senate—Republicans and Democrats—to stand with farmers and demand this support be included in the upcoming government funding bill.” All of those farm-state colleagues are also aware that their states are nearly as crippled by coronavirus as are all the rest of the nation, and so aid to one sector, even a major one, isn’t going to answer the problems their states face.
That and this, from a senior aide to Democrats: “What the Trump Administration wanted added to the clean CR wasn’t help for farmers—it was more than $20 billion more taxpayer dollars that the Trump Administration views as a bottomless, unaccountable political slush fund.” Trump views the entire Treasury as a political slush fund, to be honest, so this is a very fair assessment.
If you’re really into reading negotiating tea leaves (and what else have we got to do right now?) you can look at the fact that Pelosi also left out $2 billion in child-nutrition assistance for a program that runs out at the end of the month. That could mean the coronavirus relief negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are progressing. Could, mind you. They’ve been at an impasse for weeks with Republicans so far willing to let McConnell’s political games be their only contribution.
Republicans are also perfectly willing to let thousands, tens of thousands more people get sick and die from coronavirus, while they completely destroy the institution of the Senate to install a “pro-life” Supreme Court justice.
It’s going to be a long, hellish nine days. And just a note here so everyone remembers: this is not normal. This is not how a functioning government operates. There was a time when shutdown threats didn’t happen several times a year. When shutdowns were a thing to be avoided at all costs. This all started back with Newt Gingrich when the Republican party decided to give up on governing and become total nihilists. Theirs is a dark and terrifying vision for the nation, and we’re hanging on by a thread here to avoid it.