Government Shutdown

Shutdown Day 2: Donald Trump Urges 'Nuclear Option.' That's Not a Good Plan.

Luckily, no actual nukes are involved. But it could be politically destructive.


Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

This morning, on day 2 of the budget-induced government shutdown, President Donald Trump tweeted: "If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no C.R.'s!"

Supermajority demagoguery is one of the most blatantly hypocritical recurring features of U.S. politics. The moment a party takes power, the members of that party start shouting into the nearest microphone that it's morally and politically abhorrent for the minority party to hold up legislation in the Senate by demanding a 60-vote threshold be met. When partisan control flips, so do the talking points.

It's obviously true that procedural rules in the Senate are partially responsible for the difficulty recent congresses have had in passing budgets. In a closely divided Senate, getting 60 votes for spending bills—as required by Senate procedure—means the bills must be bipartisan.

But even if the Senate turned its focus completely to changing that rule right now, there's no way the government will be open on Monday. For one thing, there's no language for a "real, long term budget" in circulation right now. That budget bill simply doesn't exist.

More broadly, a moment of crisis is the wrong time to consider major procedural changes—it's impossible to engage in a serious debate about the merits of the change when everyone (the president, even!) is hyperfocused on whether it means their team will win the very next vote. But we're always in budget crisis. Continuing resolutions (C.R.s) are the order of the decade. And what's more, this round is even shorter and therefore more frequent; there's currently some controversy right now over whether to craft a C.R. with a 3- or 4-week lifespan.

For now, party leaders on both sides seem to grasp this is not the time to go full Calvinball."The Republican Conference opposes changing the rules on legislation," David Popp, the spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.), said to USA Today. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D–Ill.) agreed on This Week. "We have to acknowledge our respect for the minority."

Should a majority party manage to summon up the will to shoot its future self in the foot, we'll all be worse off. A post-nuclear congressional landscape is one in which there is more partisanship, more low-debate up-or-down voting, more whipping, more winner-takes-all-ism, and less compromise.

The first part of the president's tweet was about the underlying conflicts on substantive issues powering the stalemate: "Great to see how hard Republicans are fighting for our Military and Safety at the Border," he wrote. "The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked." This disagreement doesn't go away in an environment where budgets can be passed with a simple majority. Dems don't just throw up their hands and say, "Oh well, we'll just wait until we're in power to do stuff, I guess!" Instead, senators will find even less forthright and more convoluted ways to further their agendas. And meanwhile, elections will become much fiercer and more vitriolic. But Gorsuching will reach epic levels in both parties. None of this is worth it to score a win on this particular continuing resolution.

P.S. The only solution to the budget crisis dumber and less practical than the abolition of the 60-vote majority is the proposal to bring back earmarks so that everyone on the Hill can horse-trade their way passing bigger, more expensive legislation.

NEXT: Does the Congressional Gym Lack Towels Due To Shutdown?

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  1. That article went way more anti horse at the end then I would have hoped.

    1. What the hell ever happened to the Cunts-tits-utional provisions for, Congress is in control of the budget? Why does the POTUS get to do a darned thing besides veto, or not veto?

      Policy-Wonk suggestion for Congress: Pass piece-meal budgets, agency by agency, project by project:
      FDA budget for 2018: $15.00, till y’all put yer dicks back in yer pants, and stop being micro-managing assholes! Potus: Veto, or no veto? Veto, and FDA gets zilch for 2018?

      DEA budget for 2018: $27.00, till y’all stop preventing terminally ill, suffering patients from getting pain pills. Potus: Veto, or no veto? Veto, and DEA gets zilch for 2018?

      I think y’all get the idea? WHERE do I put in my suggestion? Will any of the “important people” give a fucking damn!??!?

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  2. Why not just pass a rule if no budget is passed in time then they just use last years budget? No more threats of pet projects attached to other items.

    1. What kind of crisis would that leave politicians to exploit? Do you even politics??

    2. But how far back would you go? What if last year had no budget either?

      1. Only spend what was brought in last year. No budget needed, no deficits.

  3. Interesting to speculate on just the opposite — nothing but earmarks.

  4. I might be missing something – is there some reason for us to care *at all* whether or not the government makes a budget?

    I’d like to see this shutdown continue until shit is really strained. I want to see how far we can go.

    I want to see the ‘furloughed’ government workers eat through their savings and then have to go out and find real jobs.

    I want to see exactly how long our troops overseas will keep fighting stupid fucking wars after the paychecks have stopped.

    1. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

    2. The problem is, at some point, innocent people will get hurt.

      Plus, “not paying the soldiers” is a time-tested way of starting a coup.

      1. What innocent people?

      2. This is all according to the plan, where Putin invades and takes over America.

        Thanks, DrumpfBot.

      3. The problem is that innocent people will get hurt if the government shuts down, and, innocent people will get hurt if it doesn’t get shut down. We’re already hurting innocent people on a regular basis.

        So, you actually need to work out which way hurts fewer innocent people…

  5. When the Dems get power back they’re going to do whatever they want and come up with bullshit rationalizations for it. Note that they were the ones who started the nuclear option for judicial nominees in 2014, in order to pack the courts with Obama appointees, giving the same rationale they vocally opposed when some Republicans unsuccessfully tried to invoke the nuclear option in 2005. So McConnell’s tactic of “respecting the minority” will not prevent them from doing whatever they want when they become the majority. The GOP should show no mercy as it will receive none.

    The comparison of the nuclear option to Calvinball is ridiculous. This isn’t a game with a beginning and end. The houses of Congress are supposed to adapt their rules to changing circumstances.

    1. “The GOP should show no mercy as it will receive none.”

      This. But they won’t bc they are spineless.

  6. I heard that the Con Man was some kind of awesome fucking “deal maker” – that must be another one of his lies.

    Shut the shit down for at least three months I say.

    1. Shut down the government for years.

      End social security, medicare, and welfare.

    2. “Con Man”

      Enough about Barry.

    3. In order to make an awesome fucking deal you kind of need to be party to it. The president doesn’t get to unilaterally pass a budget or continuing resolution. If you don’t believe me, just ask a constitutional scholar like Obama. He couldn’t do it either when his party shut the government down.

  7. I see that Trey Boy Howdy had to resign from the House ethics committee for misuse of funds. Serves the little twerp right for wasting so much money on the BENGHAZI!! fake skandul.

    1. Remember when Obama okayed Hillary stupid plan in Benghazi that got Ambassador Christopher Stevens and 3 Americans killed?

      1. It was a US embassy you stupid numbnuts.

        Remember when Reagan planned the deaths of 241 US Marines in Beirut?

        See how idiotic you sound?

        1. It was actually a US diplomatic compound not an embassy.

          An embassy has support staff and marines that can number into the hundreds.

          I would point out how idiotic you always sound but we already know how dumb you are.

    2. Considering the Clinton Foundation scandal and the hundreds of new classified emails discovered just in the last few weeks, the Benghazi scandal is kind of small potatoes I guess. Although it did get several people killed.

      How much money has Mueller spent verifying that Fusion GPS report in the last year? I bet that could keep your mom’s food stamps going another month or two.

  8. Eliminate the rule for requiring more than majority vote and ignore the Democrats.

    If the Democrats might win a majority in the Senate, before those Senators are sworn in, make a Senate rule requiring 75 votes for legislation. Then make all Senate rule changes require 100 votes.

    1. That wouldn’t work. Past legislatures can’t bind future legislatures.

      1. Congress can make its own rules. The Senate can bind future Senators by making it a rule.

        No motion to suspend, modify, or amend any rule, or any part thereof, shall be in order, except on one day’s notice in writing, specifying precisely the rule or part proposed to be suspended, modified, or amended, and the purpose thereof. Any rule may be suspended without notice by the unanimous consent of the Senate, except as otherwise provided by the rules.
        The rules of the Senate shall continue from one Congress to the next Congress unless they are changed as provided in these rules.
        Senate rules

        1. Except the rule-making rule can be changed by a simple majority. This has already been done with the removal of the filibuster for judicial nominees, by both parties, in 2014 and again in 2017.

    2. Does that really sound like a good idea to you? Jeez.

      1. If they could do that, they could make a rule that the Senate can never pass anything ever again.

    3. The idiotic thing is that you’re absolutely serious.

    1. End of Year 1 for Trump. Trump 100 Democrats 0

  9. Changing the vote-margin rule isn’t going to fix anything, it’ll just be a few more shitweasels knowing they can threaten to withhold their vote unless they get a fat greasy slab of pork out of the deal. Budget bills have to originate in the House where the GOP has a bigger edge and a larger membership so each individual vote matters less and yet they still gotta slather on the lard to get anything passed, why would the Senate be any different?

  10. {drives up in metallic turquoise Toyota truck with blood-spattered front grill and a teetering pile of corpses in the back, blasting Dubstep out rolled-down windows}

    WOOH-HOO! SHUTDOWN 2018! WOOOH! Check out these new rims, yo! They’re china plates I took from our congressman’s wife’s china cabinet! I just super-glued them on, works fine. That’s her in the back of the pile back there. No, the one with the nose missing. And do you see my new earrings? I made ’em out of a toddler’s femurs! Took a lot of trial and error, but I finally got a pair sharpened just right.

    Anyhoo, gotta split! I heard they’re having a garage sale down at what’s left of the police precinct! PARTY LIKE IT’S CURRENT YEAR, MOTHER-EFFERS!

    {drives away, corpse pyramid shedding bodies left and right, honking at burning wrecks of various cars that litter the roadway}

    GET OUTTA THE WAY, you carbon-spewing shitlords! Bein’ a smolderin’ corpse is no excuse! I’ma call Al Gore about this!

  11. “More broadly, a moment of crisis . . . “


    “P.S. The only solution to the budget crisis . . . “


    If the government failed to make an interest payment or return principal on a maturing bond, that would be a crisis.

    This isn’t a crisis.

    This is grandstanding.

    1. It’s a crisis for the folks trying to put food on the table with no paycheck.

      1. Are you Tulpa?

        1. If that’s what it takes, that’s what I’ll be.

      2. I’d try hard not to cry all night for all the people who don’t get paid because the government largess gravy train is running late.

        . . . but instead, I think I’ll just be a libertarian.

        I hope all those people are permanently fired for lack of government spending, and if they’re incapable of doing anything of value in the private sector, then I hope they wander around in circles aimlessly until they stave to death.

        1. You might rethink this when Chicomms dance on your corpse because you held to a musket and sailboat era concept of the role of government.

          1. Poe’s Law

        2. If the FDA isn’t properly and promptly funded? WHO, I desperately ask, WHO will protect us ignorant peons from hurting ourselves, by using devices to help us cough, or blow our noses?!?!?

          If’n ye think I am being hyperbolic, about the FDA protecting us from such things? Please be advised that we can barely scratch our asses these days, w/o a Government-Almighty-licensed physician’s approval! “Coughing” with mechical assistance via cheap plastic flute? Don’t go there, w/o yer doctor’s written permission! Ditto any electromechanical, electromucousal, assistance! See “lung flute” and “ear-popper” via The Google (Who Knows and Sees All!!!), or, at web site ?

  12. Oh, and as I suspected would happen, Mulvaney has come out and said that’s they aren’t going to bring out the “Barrycades” and pull that stupid-ass shutdown theater like Blocko Mofo did.

    1. When I point out to people what an absolute a-hole Barry really is, this is my go to example. Closing open air parks and monuments was a dick move (and probably criminal) and he should have been raked through the coals for it.

      1. Trump raped women and committed treason.

  13. Whatever the author’s intent, on balance this article reinforces continued irresponsible Banana Republic government. Last balance budgets 1999 – 2001 (or close) implemented by Newt & Bill. This is now 2018! National debt in 2001 about $5 trillion, after Bush – Obama about $20 trillion. Up $15 trillion. Obama’s Shovel Ready jobs? A lie. Keep your doctor and insurance plan and save $2,500? Obama’s lie, lie, and lie. Unfunded liabilities? What, about $100 trillion or more. Al Gore’s sacred Social Security lock box? All IOUs. Can Al be honest, or is lying a politician’s disease? Government by Continuing Resolutions? I am certain the Founding Fathers are trying to dig out of their graves. How are many city/county/state governments doing to assure financial obligations? D, D-, or F+. I would like to vote on removal of all 435 congress trash and 100 senate trash. Get lost author.

  14. And now the Rethuglicans threaten us all with the nuclear option.

    Whatever happened to the checks and balances in the constitution? The rule of Senstecrules? Out the window, as the conservatives try to shove their right wing agenda down the throat of all Americans.

    Please, Mueller: stop the terror that is the Drumpfenator.

    1. The filibuster is a rule made by a Senate majority way back when, not part of the constitution. The Senate is checked by the House and by the other branches.

      1. Why do you cuck the Drumpftrain so hard, Deflator Mouse?

  15. KMW sucks every troll in the neighborhood in with one post (sustained golf clapping).

  16. The federal government shut down? I hadn’t noticed. Anyway I have this fantasy that DT will acknowledge “non-essential” federal employees as being just that, and fire them.

  17. conspiracy theory is that NFL rigged the AFC championship for the Pats, but yet another SB with the Patriots probably draws fewer viewers than the Jags would have.

    1. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility. If Russia could hack a US presidential election, it’s not totally out of the question for the NFL to rig its own game.

  18. Dammit, the Patriots won???!!! I don’t know any players on the Jaguars, but I was rooting for them because Vice’s Twitter told me the Patriots are a bunch of Drumpf supporting jerks!

    1. Jaqs deserved to lose with their fucking prevent offense. Play not to lose and you deserve to lose.

      They put up 14 in the first half then all they do is run into a wall over and fucking over

  19. The Dems have already used the nuclear option. Does this writer really think that they will respect the Republicans for not doing the same? That’s lunacy.

  20. “For now, party leaders on both sides seem to grasp this is not the time to go full Calvinball.”

    I should point out that in October of 2016, when they still thought the Senate was shortly going to be their’s, Democratic leaders explicitly stated that they WERE going to “go full Calvinball” after the election.

    The only reason Democrats think this is not the time, is that Republicans are the ones who’d score the goal if that happens.

  21. Not one of the geniuses commenting on this blog have realized that prior to the 1974 rule change, a filibuster required someone from the filibustering party to actually filibuster. Now, they just have to say they will. So a rule change that requires the minority to actually stand up and hold the floor indefinitely would be a real bonus. Plus it would give the Democrats a forum to explain why they think this is the rock they want to stand on.

    1. Fuck off, everyone knows they don’t have to actually filibuster actively any more and just lodge the intent to do it. They’re doing it for the same reasons the Republicans have done it, because it’s there for them to be spoiled brats. None of this is news.

  22. Donald Trump is an authoritarian who thinks he should be making all the government policy from here on out. So this isn’t really news.

    1. Isn’t it ironic that this entire shutdown is caused by an illegal amnesty pushed through by the last president without congress?

      1. And David Letterman MUST have asked him about this in his in-depth interview of Obama, right? I mean, he had to ask how tight his watch wrist-band is, whether he eats fried chicken with a knife and fork; all those important issues the legacy press is focusing on with Trump!
        And I’m told on good authority that if you find the disparity obnoxious, why you must LUV TRUMP!

        1. Letterman is still on TV?

    2. He’s a drumpftator.

    3. Right, that’s why every time some local judge enjoins his policies, he complies with the injunction, because he’s an authoritarian. Every would-be dictator acts that way.

      Sheesh. Trump is probably the least authoritarian President in many people’s lifetimes.

    4. Donald Trump is an authoritarian who thinks he should be making all the government policy from here on out.

      Clearly this is why he is deferring to the legislature to, you know, legislate…

  23. Hihn really had a field day on this dead thread.

  24. Hey Hihn, Fuck off. Seriously. Fuck right off.

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