With Democrats and Republicans squabbling fiercely over how to reopen the government, it’s Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — the former boxer — who compares lawmakers’ bickering to a schoolyard brawl.
“We are not going to be bullied,” Reid said Tuesday. “We have done everything we can, and we’ve done it very reasonably.”
As Reid’s 54-seat majority is tested to the limit by the first government shutdown in 17 years, the Nevada Democrat’s strategy has been simple: Do not give in to Republican demands to undo, excise, or delay any part of the Affordable Care Act.
It’s a strategy that has pressure-tested unity among Senate Democrats, who have so far stood fast in a series of high-profile votes to turn away House proposals that would have ended the standoff but handed Republicans something to brag about.
“This is a democracy. This cannot be how we govern,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. “And I think that has been one of Harry Reid’s strongest messages: We cannot hand them the stick to beat us with.”
Whether Reid can hold Democrats together as the shutdown drags on — there is no sign that it will end in coming days — remains unclear. But House Republicans have already scaled back their offers, going from a full repeal of Obamacare, to a full delay, to a delay of a piece of the program. Reid, backed by his caucus and President Obama, has remained steady in his insistence that House Republicans adopt the continuing resolution the Senate passed on Friday.
The latest House suggestion involves adopting a piecemeal approach to funding government, with individual resolutions to fund national parks, Veterans Affairs, and the District of Columbia. Reid shot that idea down, too.
“Here’s their plan: Some of the rabble-rousers over there have said what they want to do is take little pieces of the government “¦ and this will go on for weeks, but what won’t get funded is Obamacare,” he said, adding that “this is not serious.”
Republicans say Reid refuses to negotiate and compromise, and that he’s making life difficult for some Democrats facing reelection next year. But if any Democrats are sweating, they have nonetheless stood by Reid.
“I think he’s been very clear and absolutely right about what’s at stake here,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. “So I give him very high marks. It’s clear we have the votes here in the [Senate] to keep the government open. The House won’t allow a vote on it. I think Senator Reid’s been very effective in pointing that out.”
Senate Democrats insist that House Republicans will ultimately shoulder the brunt of public anger over the shutdown, but that’s a tide that could run both ways. Thus far, Reid and his allies don’t seem to fear any backlash.
“He’s done a really good job,” Warren said. “He’s held everyone together.”
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."