Montana’s sole representative in Congress, Greg Gianforte, voted on Thursday to spend $5.7 billion on Trump’s border wall, setting the stage for a government shutdown affecting more than 800,000 federal workers.
Gianforte is blaming Democrats for the shutdown but the fact is a compromise bill had been hammered out between the president, the Senate and the House that would have kept the government open. At the last minute Trump and House Republicans decided building the wall was more important.
UPDATE: Sen. Steve Daines voted late Friday with Senate Republicans to accept the House spending deal, which included the $5.7 billion for the wall. This was a nonstarter and led to the shutdown as the Senate needed 60 votes to pass the bill and every Democrat voted against it. (The makeup of the Senate is 51 Republicans, 47 Democrats and two Independents.)
Daines went further by saying he supported Trump’s call for a “nuclear option,” which means scrapping Senate rules and allowing a simple majority to pass the spending bill with the wall funding intact. Daines even reposted a tweet from Trump:
Daines’ own party bristled at the idea, from The Hill:
Senate Republicans quickly rejected President Trump‘s push that they go “nuclear” and change Senate rules to eliminate the legislative filibuster in order to pass a funding bill with $5 billion for his wall on the Mexican border.
Yikes, even Hatch thinks it’s a bad idea. Daines, however sides with the president on building a wall on the southern border (over 1200 miles away from Montana). Daines shares responsibility with fellow Senate Republicans and Trump for the government shutdown.
About half of the affected government employees will continue working but without a paycheck. Many ironies here: your airport TSA workers, during the busiest travel season of the year, are among them as are the Customs and Border Protection officers who patrol the southern border.
The other half will be furloughed. This includes Forest Service and National Parks employees, and other agency workers, CNBC reported.
The House bill, which is basically an appropriations bill, passed along party lines by a vote of 217-185 and is now headed to the Senate where it has little chance of passing, ergo the shutdown.
Trump himself said in a tweet Friday morning that “if the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time.”
But it’s not the Democrats who will be responsible but the GOP, in part because it wants to take one more jab at the Democrats (and particularly Nancy Pelosi) while Republicans still control the House.
And shutdowns are expensive. The 2013 shutdown that lasted 16 days cost the economy an estimated $24 billion.
Eight House Republicans voted against the bill, bucking the president, but not Gianforte. Even as the administration is in a free fall, Gianforte and Daines continue doing Trump’s bidding: trying to get a 2000-mile wall built while sticking it to federal employees over the holidays at a cost running into the billions of dollars.