Sasse Support Of The Trump Shutdown Contradicts His Own Rhetoric And Record
In 2015, Ben Sasse received gushing praise for his maiden Senate speech from both the national and local media. In that speech, Sasse criticized what he termed: “bare knuckled politics, “radical tactics,” and the use of Senate rules for “shirts and skins exercises.” Sasse said the Senate should be “reducing polarization” and reformed to solve what he termed “generational problems.”
Unfortunately, Sasse’s own record as both a candidate and U.S. Senator directly contradicts the eloquent rhetoric of that much ballyhooed maiden speech. This has become even more obvious during the Trump shutdown.
Shortly before the Christmas holiday in December 2018, the Senate passed unanimously by a voice vote a bill to keep the government funded without any money for Trump’s ridiculous wall with Mexico. The former TV reality star signaled that he would sign the bill after its expected easy passage in the House.
However, after Trump indicated he would sign the funding bill, the entertainers in the right wing media revolted. The likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter demanded that Trump hold out for the wall. As a consequence, Trump flip flopped and said he wouldn’t sign the bill that kept the government open without money for the wall. Consequently, Paul Ryan refused to grant the expected up or down vote on the Senate bill.
After the new Congress convened on January 3, 2019, the House passed a funding bill identical to the one that Sasse supported last month. McConnell responded by refusing to grant an up or down vote to this bill. The Senate GOP leader said he wouldn’t hold a vote on a bill that Trump wouldn’t sign.
Ben Sasse joined Trump a/k/a Individual 1 in this flip flop on government funding. The junior Nebraska Senator said in a statement that the “Senate should not be taking up the House legislation.” Sasse was for keeping the government open before he was against it.
This government shutdown isn’t a game. The people protecting Sasse and his fellow top government officials are working for free due to his foolish decision. Moreover, the people protecting the border are working for nothing. Ironically, the entire immigration system has been crippled by the Trump shutdown. The E-Verify program has been suspended and the immigration courts have been shut down.
The shutdown has already effected the federal courts. The civil lawsuits filed against Trump and his various entities have been put on hold by the shutdown. (It’s no wonder Individual 1 is no hurry to end the shutdown.) Beginning on January 11, the entire federal court system could be shutdown due to a lack of funding.
While many middle class federal workers are going without pay, Vice President Pence and other high level administration officials will be receiving a 10% pay increase. This unjustified pay increase was triggered by the shutdown since the agency funding bills that weren’t passed contained a pay freeze for high ranking officials. For example, Pence’s salary will be increased from $230,700 to $243,500 as a direct result of the Trump shutdown.
Our civil servants aren’t the only middle class citizens who are taking a hit. Due to the Trump/Sasse shutdown, the I.R.S. is operating with a skeleton crew — only about 12% of I.R.S. employees are expected to work during the shutdown. This will cause unnecessary delays of tax refunds for millions of Americans. That kind of suffering by millions of ordinary Americans will reduce consumer spending and slow down the economy.
Ben Sasse has long regarded himself as some kind of constitutional scholar and expert. Currently, McConnell and Sasse regard themselves as Trump’s employees. They seem to have lost sight of the fact that the Founding Fathers established the Congress as a co-equal branch of the government that was intended to check and balance an irresponsible executive. It’s now time for the GOP Senators to do their jobs and re-pass the funding bill they supported in December. They need to override Trump’s expected veto and end this fiasco.