There’s no denying it – Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill failed to stand in solidarity with other Democrats when it came to the shutdown vote. I can’t pretend this doesn’t bother me; right now all Democrats have got going for themselves is a shaky commitment to standing united against the ugly GOP Trumpocalypse.
But we all know McCakill’s got a bad situation in Missouri and her stance in that regard always been to emphasize what seems most pragmatic in terms of the next election. I’ve got nothing against pragmatism – 2018 is coming up and a GOP congress more or less enabled by an incompetent dotard President to run wild is an existential threat – and McCaskill has delivered for progressives on scores of occasions. I just hope she’s really made the most pragmatic decision this time – although I trust her political sense most of the time.
Besides, four Republicans broke ranks and voted with Democrats, reinforcing the Democratic argument that the deal on the table – along with the process – stinks. Maybe it doesn’t hurt to underline the fact that this shutdown doesn’t necessarily break along partisan, but rather commonsense and human decency concerns. Republican PR to the contrary, the issues do not involve “illegal immigration” per se, but rather young DACA immigrants who are totally integrated into our culture – and who are here through no fault of their own – that and poison pill cuts sidecars that the Republicans have attempted to hide behind the pretense that an inadequate CHIP extension is a meaningful compromise.
McCaskill was, however, admirably quick to bring some her pragmatic commonsense to bear on the GOP claims that the shutdown showed that Democrats didn’t care about hurting the military. After Trump got the GOP blame-the-Democrats show on the road, tweeting (what else?) that “Democrats are holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration,” McCaskill, bless her heart, put the lie to that dim-witted and way too obvious effort to avoid blame:
While Trump, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans blamed the Democrats, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) made an effort shortly after midnight to get the troops’ salaries and death benefits paid through the shutdown.
“I want to make sure that tonight we send a very clear signal that we don’t want one moment to pass with there being any uncertainty of any soldier anywhere in the world that they will be paid for the valiant work they do for our national security,” McCaskill said, calling for a resolution to pay the troops.
McConnell scuttled the effort, objecting to her motion.
But McCaskill didn’t stop there. She earlier co-sponsored a bill that would, symbolically at least, put some tiny piece of the financial onus of a shutdown where it belongs:
Earlier Friday, a group of Senate Democrats introduced a bill to withhold congressional pay should there be a government shutdown Friday hours before a deadline to pass a budget.
Because Congress didn’t pass a budget before midnight, members of both the House and Senate would not receive paychecks under the proposed No Government No Pay Act of 2018.
“If members of Congress can’t figure this out and keep the government open, then none of us should get paid,” said McCaskill, one of the co-sponsors of the bill.
This initiative might have easier sailing – the optics are good for the GOP too, and, unlike federal workers who will see their pay withheld, few of the disproportionate numbers of wealthy congress creatures are likely to be hurt too badly. Nevertheless, symbolic gestures are important and kudos to McCaskill for helping to bring it forward.
ADDENDUM: Here’s more hardcore, classic McCaskill on the #Trumpshutdown:
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who herself is in a tough re-election fight, was one of five Senate Democrats who voted against the shutdown. But an hour after the vote, she issued a statement saying she was “disgusted” with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for pushing off a resolution of a children’s health insurance program until it got entangled in greater government funding differences.
“While I voted yes tonight to continue funding the government, it’s embarrassing how badly this place is being run,” McCaskill said.