Have you stopped to consider what it would actually signify for Congress to pass a “clean continuing resolution?”
It would not merely mean that Congress acts to keep the government open and to avoid a federal government shutdown. No, for Congress to pass a “clean CR” would mean that the Democratic-majority House proactively chooses to fund Donald’s fascist government without restraint, right through the existentially-critical upcoming election. It would mean that congressional Democrats vote to approve unfettered funding for genocidal policies toward immigrants, secret federal agents, the ongoing destruction of the Postal Service, and all the rest.
Here is a merely partial sample of the policies, picking among what Customs and Border Patrol does to immigrant detainees, that a clean CR would empower the federal government to continue:
- Forced and surprise hysterectomies
- Withholding of medical care
- Purposefully reckless confinement amid COVID-19-prone conditions
- Detainee transfers that themselves spread COVID-19 among the detainee population (as happened when the federal government deployed CPB agents near DC to oppress protesters)
- Torture using cold, heat, sleep deprivation, unhealthy food, unhealthy water, and more
- Forced and tricked orphaning of children from parents
- Abuse of children, even of infants and toddlers
- Molestation of children
- Abuse and sexual assault in general
Early in 2019, during the government funding shutdown struggle over border wall funds, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez cast the lone Democratic vote against a continuing resolution because it included funding for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. She likewise was morally correct in later refusing to fund concentration camps, as she accurately called them. Americans should liberate concentration camps, not fund them. Conversely, Speaker Pelosi expressed fear that Republicans would attack Democrats for speaking with such moral clarity, and she pushed the funding bills through.
These are fascist and even genocidal policies that we’re talking about. For our representatives to placate fascists and to avoid confrontation in order to carry on with business as usual… That’s appeasement, that’s the stuff of “peace in our time.” Not just by analogy, but literally.
On top of the moral question, funding for federal agencies is the primary point of strategic leverage that the House Democratic majority has available to it. Republicans don’t care that many more Americans will suffer and die for lack of a new pandemic relief bill. Notably, back at the beginning of the pandemic, when the Republicans could be forced to pretend care because the corporate ownership class was at the government’s mercy for a bailout, Speaker Pelosi threw away Democrats’ leverage for greatly expanded relief for the public, cities, counties, and states. Instead of holding out for that, she let the HEROES Act and three subsequent pandemic relief bills go by without that expanded relief and without other critical protections, such as for the Postal Service or for the election.
It wasn’t as though the need for these provisions was unclear at the time; advocacy groups and commentators across the country diligently compiled lists of them. It was rather telling, though, how she objected when called on it:
And now here we are again, with the budget this time. Consider the untenable contradiction between these two passages from a CNN article:
While the September 30 government funding deadline could have become a catalyst for the stimulus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have already agreed that no stimulus package will be included as part of the 'clean' short-term spending negotiations. “Those negotiations are separate from this,” Pelosi said during her weekly news conference on Thursday.
Behind the scenes, the California Democrat has encouraged her caucus to remain united even as pressure builds for members in tough reelection campaigns to go home with a [lesser or piecemeal]* deal.
“We don't want to go home without a bill, but don't be a cheap date. When you are in a negotiation, the last place to get weak knees is at the end,” Pelosi told Democratic members on a private conference call Thursday.
For the Speaker to act as though she’s driving a hard bargain on refusing to water down the House Democrats’ pandemic relief offering—admirable on its own (though even that offering is grossly inadequate to the need)—but then to purposefully forfeit budget leverage is a disturbing ruse upon the nation. (On top of that, Mnuchin was the architect of the loan that of the sabotaged of the Postal Service, and his policies have horribly hamstrung pandemic relief funds, yet he's the congressional Democrats’ apparent preferred counterpart for negotiation?)
By glaring contrast, congressional Democrats have embraced conflict and prevailed before. There was the victorious public pressure-driven fight to stave off a legislative repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And then in the first two months of 2019, the new House majority admirably faced down an extended Republican shutdown fight over racist border wall funding. In the middle of it, Speaker Pelosi withheld from the president the invitation for the state of the union address to Congress.† When unions, particularly the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA led by Sarah Nelson, entered the fray with the threat of of imminent strikes, the Republicans buckled, and Congress excised most of the formal wall funding from the budget language. In addition to the policy defeat for the Republicans, most of the perceived blame for the shutdown seemed to redound upon them.
Democrats can do it again. They could in fact aggressively wield legitimate official authority on the public’s behalf. Don’t let them pretend otherwise.
The vote on a “clean CR” is possibly on track to take place this week. Everyone please contact your representative, tell him or her to top a "clean continuing resolution," and demand that the budget include essential provisions like extensive pandemic relief, election protections, restoration of mail service, and strict prohibitions on abuse by federal agents. The country might not make it through the election without these things. Tell your representative to fight it all the way into Republican government shutdown if necessary.
For the House majority to pass a clean CR would mean that Democrats affirmatively fund—without constraint—a racist Republican administration that is taking the country into dictatorship. Will your congressperson be the one to lead a caucus revolt to stop it and save the country?