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Dec 09 2016

Of Shoes And Ships And Sealing-Wax

The government may be facing a shutdown by the Senate Democrats and with good reason. It seems the House Republicans, in passing a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government operational through April 2017, removed two provisions that could result in a filibuster in the Senate. Those provisions would protect the health coverage of retired coal miners and their widows for a year. The other is a provision, much touted by the Aging, Orange Thin Skinned One, that would have helped save American steel workers jobs. Yeah, America First!???

From Charlie Pierce at Esquire Politics:

While we’re all waiting for the announcement out of Camp Runamuck that George (The Animal) Steele will be the next Fed chairman, the elves in the Congress are busy, busy, busy selling out the Rust Belt suckers to whom, if the guilt-ridden elite political media is to be believed, we all owe a cookie for the next decade. First up, the coal miners! From the MetroNews in West Virginia:

The Miners Protection Act to address health and pension benefits for coal miners and their families will not be included in a continuing resolution bill, according to a Tuesday announcement. Congress said the bill, which would continue to fund the federal government, only has four months of funding for those retired miners and their widows. Cecil Roberts, international president of the United Mine Workers of America, called the announcement “a slap in the face to all 22,000 of them who desperately need their health care next month, next year and for the rest of their lives.”

But, wait, isn’t West Virginia represented in the Senate by that highly influential Democrat, Joe Manchin, who’s been running around telling every camera crew inside the Beltway that that his party has to get right with the workin’ man? Yeah, he’s got the juice, no question.

Approximately 12,500 retired union miners and the widows of retirees stand to lose their pension and health care benefits across the nation.

Next up, the steelworkers! There was a nifty provision in a bill to improve the nation’s sorry-ass water infrastructure by which those improvements would be made with American steel made by American steelworkers. This surely would have provided a substantial job at good wages for American workers, who are the salt of the earth, and who abandoned Hillary Rodham Clinton because she did not “speak” to them, nor give them cookies, either.

Ah, my friends. You reckoned without our favorite zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, as his congressional colleague Senator Tammy Baldwin informs us.

Last Thursday night in Cincinnati, on the first stop of his “Thank You Tour,” Trump said his infrastructure plan would follow two simple rules: “Buy American and hire American. We’re going to do it ourselves.” However, on Friday, the media reported that Speaker Ryan was leading a push to remove the Buy America reform from Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Senator Baldwin joined a bipartisan a group of 25 Senators in sending a letter to House and Senate leaders calling for her Buy America provision to be put back into the final bill to support U.S. steel and iron workers and manufacturers.

Senator Sherrod Brown was not pleased, either.

“By stripping meaningful Buy America rules from the water infrastructure bill, Washington leadership is choosing China and Russia over Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin,” said Brown. “This was the first major test of whether Washington establishment Republicans would live up to President-elect Trump’s promises to put American products and American workers first – they failed, and American iron and steel workers will pay the price.” The original Buy America rule in the Senate bill would have permanently amended the Safe Drinking Water Act to require American-made steel and iron be used in infrastructure projects funded by the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). Instead, Republican leaders stripped that language and replaced it with a one-year provision that is already in effect and does nothing to further ensure American steel and iron will be used in water infrastructure projects moving forward.

Over at Talking Points Memo, there is talk of filibuster and deals:

According to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Democrats left a caucus meeting Thursday afternoon in agreement that they would stand against any spending bill that did not include an extension of the benefits for at least a year.

“These mine workers are going to be worried going into Christmas that their health care ends on December 31st. We do four more months and they worry again in the first quarter of the year. That’s not the way to live. None of us would want to live that way. Nobody wants to live that way,” Brown said.

Democrats would not say if they planned to vote against cloture, the procedural vote that requires 60 votes for senators to get onto a bill. If Democrats did vote against cloture it could lead to a government shutdown. [..]

Democrats also want to see a stronger “buy America” provision that requires that the U.S. government only funds projects that use American-made steel. The provision had been included, but was scrapped by House Republican leaders despite the fact that it’s been a popular refrain from President-elect Donald Trump.

Complicating efforts is the fact that the House may try to skip town Thursday afternoon after their vote on the spending bill. If the bill is going to be changed later by the Senate, it may require the House to come back altogether or may require the use of a procedural maneuver to pass the bill by unanimous consent in their absence.

If Democrats really are as united as Brown says, it will be impossible for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to pass the continuing resolution without making changes. That could put the government on the verge of a shutdown. Brown indicated that Republican leaders might be interested in making a deal.

And not a Tweet from Trump.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”