January 03, 2019

Van Hollen Discusses Shutdown State of Play on MSNBC with Chris Hayes

Mitch McConnell “going to have a hell of a time explaining” Refusal to Bring House Bill to a Vote

Last night, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) discussed the current status of the government shutdown, including legislation to reopen the government that is expected to pass the House today. In addition to his efforts to reopen the government, Senator Van Hollen has worked continuously to ensure that federal workers will receive retroactive pay following the shutdown, and to end President Trump’s pay freeze by providing a modest 1.9 percent cost of living adjustment to federal employees. Excerpts of the interview are transcribed below and video of the full interview is available here:

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: Joining me now, a man who spent 14 years in the House before being elected to the Senate two years ago, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland. Senator, recent news just now, Mitch McConnell saying the bill that will pass out of the House tomorrow, re-open in the government, is DOA in the Senate. What's your reaction?

SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-Md.): Well, Mitch McConnell can say that. I'm sure tomorrow after the House passes that bill, Mitch will say he's not going to take it up. But he's going to have a hell of a time explaining how it is that he refuses to take up a bill that came out of the House that's virtually identical in many ways to the bill that passed the Senate with a big bipartisan majority just before the break, two weeks ago. And as the shutdown goes down, he's going to have to answer to a lot of Republican Senators who are going to feel the pressure back home. And just saying that, well, Donald Trump told me not to bring it up is not going to be a very satisfactory answer for many of them.

HAYES: Here's the question. Do Republican Senators feel pressure? I mean, one of the weird things about the way that our political dynamics work is that it's unclear to me they do – based on the ways in which they vote and sort of act together and the levers of the media that actually affect them.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I've heard, actually, over the break from a number of Republican Senators who are hearing especially from their small business contractors who do business with the government.

HAYES: Huh, that's interesting.

VAN HOLLEN: So some of them don't care so much about federal employees, although it's a reality that 80 percent of the federal employees in this country actually work outside of the Washington metropolitan area. They work in places around the country. But the folks who are really getting squeezed and who will never be made whole after the shutdown are a lot of these small business contractors.

And so I've heard from a number of Republican Senators about that predicament. And, again, what the House is planning to do is send over two bills, one will say, okay, let's isolate our disagreement to the Department of Homeland Security – let's pass a bill to keep it open until February 8th, and have a negotiation. But for goodness sakes, the other eight departments of government that have nothing to do with the wall or homeland security – why are we going to keep those shut down? Why are we going to deny the American people these services – keep 600,000 federal employees out of work and with no pay? That's going to be a harder and harder question to answer.