In less than 24 hours, Nancy Pelosi will be sworn in as Speaker of the House. And her first immediate challenge will be how to break President Donald Trump’s childish federal government shutdown over his border wall.
As it turns out, Pelosi has the perfect plan to trap Trump and the Senate GOP.
On Wednesday, flanked by incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Pelosi told reporters the first thing her House would do:
Nancy Pelosi: “Tomorrow we will bring to the floor legislation that will open up government. It will be based on actions taken by the Republican Senate … led by Senator Mitch McConnell.” Via ABC. pic.twitter.com/WSzXBAZ6Xy# p #4_10 # ad skipped = true #
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 2, 2019# p #5_10 # ad skipped = true #
In other words, Pelosi plans to introduce and pass the same funding bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) shepherded through the Senate by voice vote two weeks ago — which happens to not include funding for Trump’s wall!
By passing this bill in the Senate but blocking it in the House on Trump’s order, Republicans boxed themselves in. They cannot easily claim that their own bill they just voted for in the Senate is soft on border security. Nor can they pin the blame on Pelosi for not retaking up the alternative House bill that included Trump’s wall funding, because that bill was rejected by the Senate.
That leaves McConnell with two choices. He can bring the original bill to the floor for near-certain passage, after which Trump will be forced to either surrender or veto it and once again take credit for the shutdown. Or, he can block the bill from going to a vote at all, and share the blame with Trump for the shutdown as, in the other chamber of the Capitol, Pelosi and House Democrats cast themselves as the sole adults who are trying to get the government reopened and back to work.
As long as House Democrats stick to their guns, is hard to see a graceful exit strategy for Trump and Senate Republicans.