Senate Republicans protecting Trump at any cost, same as House GOP last Congress

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During the 115th Congress, the insufferable incompetence and actual malice of House Republicans really stole the spotlight from their colleagues in the upper chamber. But now that the lower chamber is back in capable hands, the total uselessness of Senate Republicans has really jumped to the fore.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has spent the entire shutdown offloading responsibility onto Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fleeing any and all camera shots with Donald Trump. Turns out the turtle can move when he wants to.

But in fairness, part of the reason McConnell is so useless is because of people like South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. On Thursday, Graham tried to assemble a group of GOP Senators who could find a way out of Trump’s shutdown mess through some sort of compromise on Dreamers and Trump’s border wall. It all fell apart in a matter of hours, and then Graham moped around Capitol Hill, stumped and depressed and blabbing to reporters. He told them he saw no way out of the shutdown now that talks (among Republicans only) were over.

“I have never been more depressed about moving forward than right now,” Graham said. “I just don’t see a pathway forward.” Ultimately, Graham started actively pushing pushing Trump to declare a national emergency. “We need to do something,” he said. “It’s time for somebody to act. If the Congress won’t act, the President should act.” 

Here’s who hasn’t acted: Senate Republicans. House Democrats passed legislation to reopen the government on the same day they were sworn in. Similar legislation was passed unanimously by voice vote in the Senate just weeks ago in the last Congress. So if McConnell and his caucus wanted to put pressure on Trump to reopen the government, they could simply pass the House approved measures and send them to Trump’s desk.

But instead, McConnell has gone into hiding as his Republican colleagues just stand by and watch. As Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin told MSNBC Thursday about McConnell: “He’s waiting for a permission slip from Donald Trump to exercise his authority as the leader of the Senate.”

McConnell will continue waiting as long as his caucus lets him. In the meantime, GOP senators like Joni Ernst of Iowa who are up for re-election in 2020 might want to keep in mind how well tying themselves to Trump worked out for House Republicans last November.

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