With the shutdown entering its 29th day, the heat in Washington is rising. Donald Trump, who has seen his demands of border wall funding not being met by Democrats, has said that he will make a major announcement Saturday afternoon, with some hoping he might end the shutdown to take the negotiations further. On the other hand, Trump has himself threatened to declare a national emergency, and it is possible that he might take that recourse to have his wall funded.
But Fox News columnist Luke Mikelionis writes that the current government shutdown should not be blamed on Trump but instead on the Democrats who are using it to score political points. According to the Washington Post, a group affiliated with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has launched a $600,000 media campaign attacking “Republican senators facing potentially competitive reelection campaigns [and taking them] to task over the lapse in government services.”
Among the senators up for reelection in 2020, Senators Martha McSally, Cory Gardner, David Perdue, Joni Ernst, Susan Collins, and Thom Tillis are the ones facing the brunt of the ad attacks. According to the report, the ads are focused solely on the effects of the shutdown on specific states. For example, one ad attacks Iowa Republican senator Joni Ernst for not doing anything while farmers in her state are cut off from vital programs.
“Across Iowa, countless farmers cut off from the vital programs they rely on. Instead of being independent, she sides with her party leaders, who refuse to even allow a vote to reopen the government.”
Similar ads are created attacking other Republican senators up for reelection in 2020 midterms. It is a particularly important year for Republicans, with 22 GOP senators defending their seats compared to only 12 Democrats. If Democrats manage to flip the Senate in 2020, they will control both the House and the Senate.
According to Fox News columnist Mikelionis, the ads confirm Trump’s suspicion that Democrats are “using the shutdown” to prepare the groundwork for 2020.
“The massive media buy by Majority Forward, a nonprofit group that isn’t required to disclose its funding, appeared to confirm President Trump’s accusation that Democrats were already ‘looking to 2020’ and using the government shutdown to score political points,” he writes, before adding that it is highly unlikely that the intimidating ads will change the opinions of Senate Republicans. Most senior Republicans have stood by Trump’s demand of $5.6 billion with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell even refusing to bring the question of the shutdown to vote on the Senate floor.
“But the ads are likely intended to help lay the groundwork for the 2020 Senate elections and pin the blame for the shutdown on Republican senators who didn’t push their leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to bring the bill approved by House Democrats to the Senate floor for a vote,” Mikelionis concludes.