As the deadline approaches to avoid a government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is preparing for the worst case scenario - a scenario all but guaranteed by his most recent strategy of using funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program as leverage.
The goal would be to place the blame for a shutdown squarely on 10 Democratic senators up for reelection this fall in states won by Donald Trump in 2016, and make them the face of a government closure.
The strategy is risky for Republicans, considering that they control the White House and Congress. Should funding lapse at midnight Friday, McConnell would keep the Senate in session and try to force Democrats to repeatedly vote against funding for children’s health care money and government spending.
Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and Mike Rounds (SD) are among several Republicans stating they will oppose any measure brought to a vote, but McConnell sent a party-wide email Thursday morning urging members to stick together and assign blame to the Democrats.
“We should all plan to stay through this weekend if Senate Democrats follow through and are willing to shut down the government and the Children’s Health Insurance Program because they have yet to conclude a deal on DACA. This is an irresponsible position to take as everything from pay for our military to processing social security checks will be affected. I hope not a single Republican is inclined to join them,” McConnell said in the email.
Meanwhile, Democrats are setting up their strategy to place full responsibility on Republicans, should a shutdown become reality:
“Senate Republicans have a herculean task ahead of them to blame anyone but the president for this shutdown,” said Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “The American people will know exactly where to place the blame for the first-ever shutdown under total Republican control in Washington.”