House GOP leaders are leading a lemming-like march towards a vote to include President Trump’s demanded $5 billion border wall in must-pass legislation to keep the government funded that has almost no chance of becoming law.
After Trump reversed himself and reissued his demand for wall funding, his faithful if much-abused lieutenants in the House moved quickly to follow suit, never mind the fact that there’s no chance the Senate will pass it and no guarantee they can even get it through their own chamber.
“We’re just going to keep working through the evening to get this done,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) told reporters. “[House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi said it didn’t have the votes to pass the House so we’re going to prove her wrong there. The Senate’s going to have a challenge to face. Do they want to secure the border or do they want to stick with the crowd that’s for open borders and won’t stand with the president? It’s going to be a clear decision.”
Making a government shutdown fight the Senate’s problem for a minute seems like the best-case scenario for House Republican leaders. But it’s not even clear that Scalise’s boast that his team can get the legislation over to the other side of Congress will prove true.
Dozens of congressmen haven’t even been around for votes this week, most of them members who are retiring or lost reelection. And some moderate GOP members from swing districts who blame their November losses on Trump’s anti-immigration attacks plan to vote with Democrats on the bill.
That includes Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), who blamed “a combination” of right-wing Freedom Caucus members and President Trump’s own erraticism for leading to a likely shutdown.
“Our leadership was perfectly ready, prepared to proceed with a continuing resolution, and a minority of our majority has created a situation where that’s no longer happening,” Curbelo groused Thursday afternoon.
“There will probably be at least a brief shutdown,” he continued.
The House plans to vote on the legislation sometime Thursday evening or possibly Friday.
If it passes, it’s not even clear the Senate would take it up. Most senators split town after passing a continuing resolution to fund the government through Feb. 8 late Wednesday night, and even if they’d stuck around there’s zero chance there are 60 votes needed to pass a bill that includes wall funding.
Retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) summed up the ludicrousness of Trump’s response, bursting out laughing when he was told by reporters that Trump had reversed himself and rejected a bipartisan compromise to keep the government open until early February.
“Who knows?” he said when asked what he thought would happen next, according to NBC. “Does the person sitting beside him at the [White House] know?”