West Virginia Federal Workers Meet with Senator Manchin -- the Threat of national emergency
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin held a meeting with furloughed, and essential unpaid, federal workers today in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Roughly 100 workers turned out on short notice to hear a frankly dismal report form our Senator on the deadlocked state of US government.
Senator Manchin introduced the matter by saying "its all about immigration".
That's an easy statement against which to raise objections. But in a narrow sense he is right. Border issues have never been separate, in real life, from immigration and the status of 14 million undocumented people in the United States.
According to Senator Manchin, the Senate bill included 1.5 billion for border security, and a larger amount too, in exchange a plan to support the Dreamers --undocumented immigrants brought to the US a children -- having a path to citizenship while attending their already useful work, military service, or possession and training in much needed skills. Trump rejected this deal, even though he previously said he would support compromise on the Dreamers, alleging his base was promised "no amnesty". The Republican led house refused to take it up before the holiday season. Speaker Pelosi, "in a masterful stroke of strategy", had the house adopt the already passed Republican Senate budget.
"Why are things not moving?" numerous workers asked. Senator Manchin's response (close, from my notes): "Both sides think they are winning politically. So far. This is the worst showdown in my memory. I do not see the end. It will be up to you to do your part and tell the full story of this disaster to all your elected representatives. In another week, key security and infrastructure services will begin going down. There may not be an immigration emergency, but very soon a real emergency will emerge. Expect the the next week to be the most intense in our recent history."
The workers present from IRS, Customs, Coast Guard, and other agencies gave testimony to the immediate and threatening hardships and their already widening effects in communities. Let us say that Joe Manchin is a man unafraid to stand before his constituents and engage honestly in direct dialog with multiple points of view. A true political pro who understands the issues, he is a skilled listener, he does not dodge the details, bir the real life impacts, nor the real hard questions (oversimplifies them, maybe). In this meeting he defended the Dreamers, rejected any aspect of the immigration dispute as grounds for a shutdown of government, defended the Affordable Care Act, and encouraged everyone in their calls and activity to accept nothing less than the override of a Presidential veto.
Manchin has an interesting approach to hard things. His empathy is there, and appears sincere. But its a bit on a scale of a skilled quarterback considering the least painful, but direct assessment, and one that infers the next call, and the level of effort measured.
On the subject of hard truths, Senator Manchin made it clear there is one we all must learn now, if democratic government is to survive: The Meeting began discussing immigration but moved toward a very serious and dangerous question: should the President be encouraged to in fact declare a national emergency, at which Trump alone, will be LAW. Senator Manchin leans toward "letting this emergency happen" since, if Mitch McConnell continues refuse to hold a vote -- which he knows will pass -- an actual emergency WILL arise.
The biggest pushback from workers at the meeting came here as several challenged the idea of granting any additional authority to Trump under any circumstances. Manchin admitted that it was a very dangerous move. He believed the courts would reject it as without foundation (on the border question anyway. But there was resistance to congress endorsing something Trump can do on his own.
Folks -- this is over within a week, or unimaginable things are going to happen.
Add to this the potential revelations of Trump being a Russian and/or Saudi compromised asset, and ordered people to lie to Congress: Manchin's remark: "If Mueller's report, which I believe is coming soon, shows this is true ----- we are all accountable to law. Trump and I took the same oath of office."