With little evidence Republicans are feeling any meaningful heat over the government shutdown, the mainstream media has decided to supply some of its own.
“Twenty-four days into the longest government shutdown in U.S. history and with the White House and House Democrats no closer to a deal, pressure is ramping up on Senate Republicans to craft an exit plan that will get federal employees back to work and pull their party out of a deepening political quagmire,” wrote Felicia Sonmez and Cat Zakrzewski of the Washington Post under the headline “Pressure on Senate Republicans to break shutdown impasse grows.”
It called the suggestion by Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., a close Trump ally, to reopen the government for three weeks while negotiations on the border wall continue “a sign that Republicans are increasingly concerned that the standoff over President Trump’s long-promised border wall is hurting their party politically.”
It’s not just the border standoff either, Sonmez and Zakrzewski wrote. “The maneuvering by a key Trump ally highlights the difficult balancing act Senate Republicans will probably face over the next two years, trapped between a mercurial GOP president and an emboldened new House Democratic majority.”
The sign that things are nearing a tipping point is that three Republican senators have, to varying degrees, called for Trump to end the shutdown even if he can’t get border funding. Two of the three – Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – are known as moderates who regularly oppose the tougher aspects of the president’s agenda.
Neither Collins nor Murkowski nor Cory Gardner of Colorado have threatened any action beyond wishing the shutdown would end, and all have agreed to support legislation that includes border funding should the House approve it.
The rest of the case is based on wishful thinking.
“If other senators begin feeling the heat from constituents, they could force [Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell’s hand,” Sonmez and Zakrzewski wrote. It quoted Doug Heye, a Republican political operative and CNN talking head, saying if just three more senators began expressing reservations, McConnell might be forced to fold.
But Republicans control 53 seats in the Senate. To override a Trump veto, which the president has vowed for any funding legislation that doesn’t include his border wall funding, 19 would have to vote with Democrats on an issue that could well end their political careers.
Even the Post tacitly admits this. It says 22 Senate Republicans are up for re-election in 2020, but most “are in sold red states, where the greatest fear for GOP incumbents is a primary challenge from the right.” Collins and Gardner, it pointed out, are two who could face competitive races.
The Post then cited polling that said more Americans blame Trump and Republicans in Congress for the shutdown than congressional Democrats. It failed to mention a Rasmussen poll taken over the weekend that shows voters want “strongly controlled borders” and reject House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s characterization of the wall as “immoral” by a 53-39 margin.
It also failed to note that, according to the Wall Street Journal, House Democrats are becoming worried their party doesn’t have a strategy to win the showdown.
“Some newly elected Democrats are increasingly frustrated that they are taking complaints from angry constituents without having a mapped-out plan to end the partial shutdown,” wrote Natalie Andrews and Kristina Peterson in “Wall Impasse Frustrates Many Newly Elected House Democrats” – subhead: “While few support the border wall, some worry the tone of negotiations hasn’t conveyed their willingness to compromise on tighter border security.”
Instead, Sonmez and Zakrzewski presented comments from Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., that “once the president realizes he’s lost the Senate Republicans, we can roll up our sleeves, open the government and get down to business.”