Mitch McConnell’s plan to avert government shutdown will give Nancy Pelosi more power

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday announced a plan to fund the government through Feb. 5, a move that would allow Congress to go home for Christmas, avoid a partial shutdown, and defer a resolution to the standoff over the border wall funding until next year. But it will also mean that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will have more power over the final product.

Right now, Republicans still control the House of Representatives. But once Congress returns in January, the new Democratic House will be sworn in, and Pelosi, D-Calif., will be its leader. That means that she’ll be in a much stronger position to influence any final deal.

In announcing the plan, McConnell, R-Ky., lashed out at Democrats for being overly partisan and uncompromising.

“I’m sorry that my Democratic colleagues couldn’t put partisanship aside and show the same good-faith flexibility that the president has shown in order to provide the resources our nation needs to secure the integrity of our borders and the safety of American families,” he said. “But this seems to be the reality of our political moment. It seems like political spite for the president may be winning out over sensible policy — even sensible policies that are more modest than border security allocations which many Democrats supported themselves, in the recent past.”

He went on to blast Democratic “intransigence” and said, “There’s just been a shift in the political winds on the far left. This is knee-jerk, partisan opposition to the administration’s reasonable and flexible requests. This is making political obstruction a higher goal than the integrity of our nation’s borders. It’s political spite. And the American people know it when they see it.”

So it’s interesting that in the face of this, the solution would be to kick the can down the road to a place where liberals will be able to more forcefully hold their position.

That said, it’s not clear that McConnell had much of a choice. Pelosi knows that she’ll be in a stronger position come next month, so there’s no particular reason for her to settle knowing that her situation only improves if she holds out. President Trump, in boasting at the White House that he was prepared to shut down the government over border security, ensured that Republicans would get blamed for any shutdown, leaving them without any leverage.

It’s also worth noting that the swearing-in of the new Congress will also mean that McConnell will be in a stronger position, with 53 votes in the Senate instead of 51.

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