WATCH: Senator Chuck Grassley Says ‘Let’s All Pray That the President Will Have Wisdom to Sign the Bill So Government Doesn’t Shut Down’

He had an audience of one.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wants to avoid another government shutdown. That’s the pointed message he sent President Donald Trump as he spoke from the dais after the Senate’s official morning prayer to open Senate business.

“Let’s all pray that the president will have wisdom to sign the bill so government doesn’t shut down,” Grassley said in his capacity as presiding officer of the Senate.

While the vice president is technically the Senate’s presiding officer, he’s not there all day, so it falls to senators from the majority party to maintain order and decorum on the Senate floor. However, Senate rules dictate that the presiding officer should not editorialize from the dais, as Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) noted.

Ira Shapiro, a consultant and author of Broken: Can the Senate Save Itself and the Country? concurred.

“It is unusual for the presiding officer to make a statement like that,” he said. “Generally, senators play a more neutral role while sitting as presiding officer. Senator Grassley is notoriously and admirably independent and outspoken, and these are unusual times.”

While the moment was an out of character one for the usually staid Grassley, critics noted that the Senate does have the power to avoid a shutdown: Senators would only have to pass a bill with a veto-proof majority.

The president has yet to commit to a deal that would avert another government shutdown, though word on Capitol Hill suggests that he will.

Although the ever-mercurial Trump capitulated to the demands of Congressional Democrats to reopen the government last month, he has consistently implied that he would shut it down again when the continuing resolution that reopened the government expires tomorrow, February 15.

The previous shutdown, at 35 days, was the longest one in our nation’s history, and it had devastating effects on the national economy. According to an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, the shutdown cost approximately $11 billion. The official report noted that $13 billion was likely permanently lost, unable to be recovered by federal employees returning to work:

“Among those who experienced the largest and most direct negative effects are federal workers who faced delayed compensation and private-sector entities that lost business. Some of those private-sector entities will never recoup that lost income.”

As Second Nexus noted in a January 28 report:

“The immediate amount is almost double the $5.7 billion demanded by Trump to fund a wall at the southern border. Trump’s insistence on the funding allegation is the reason a majority of Americans blame him for the disastrous shutdown. The $3 billion dollars permanently lost is more than half of the allocation he was demanding.”

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