A Democratic group plans to launch a television advertising campaign criticizing six Republican senators for the partial government shutdown, escalating the political battle as the standoff reached its 27th day.
Majority Forward, a Democratic nonprofit group aligned with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), has produced 30-second ads taking Republican senators facing potentially competitive reelection campaigns to task over the lapse in government services.
The ads target Sens. Martha McSally (Ariz.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), David Perdue (Ga.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Susan Collins (Maine) and Thom Tillis (N.C.), the organization told The Washington Post.
As ominous music plays, a narrator points out that this is “the longest government shutdown in history,” and warns of the impact on food safety inspections and air travel security.
The ads are tailored to raise state-specific concerns about the effects of the shutdown. The North Carolina ad underscores the strain on hurricane recovery efforts.
“Across Iowa, countless farmers cut off from the vital programs they rely on,” the narrator says in the commercial targeting Ernst. “. . . Instead of being independent, she sides with her party leaders, who refuse to even allow a vote to reopen the government.”
Majority Forward, which does not disclose its donors, plans to invest around $600,000 on the ad campaign, according to an official with the group. Majority Forward plans to air the ads on cable and broadcast television.
The campaign marks a new phase in the fight between Democrats and Republicans, who are each trying to pin blame for the shutdown on the other side.
The ads highlight the political pressure points in the shutdown fight and the potential effect on the midterm elections. Republicans are defending 22 Senate seats in 2020, compared with just 12 for Democrats.
The shutdown centers on a dispute between Democrats and Republicans over funding for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. President Trump has demanded money to build the wall that he once promised Mexico would finance. Democrats have rejected his calls and have urged GOP leaders to move to reopen the government immediately.
Senate Republicans have mostly stood by Trump’s demand that wall money be included in any deal to get the government up and running again. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has called on Trump and Democratic congressional leaders to strike a deal to end the impasse.
Some of the potentially vulnerable Republican senators have sought to take steps to address the shutdown or to demonstrate that they are not benefiting while others suffer.
Gardner and Collins are among the Republican senators who have called for reopening at least some of the shuttered parts of the government without wall funding. Tillis has written an op-ed calling for a deal to protect some young undocumented immigrants in exchange for shoring up border security.
McSally and Perdue have asked that their pay be withheld during the shutdown. Ernst urged the Senate to shelve its recess plans to address the shutdown.
Democrats are arguing that Republicans ought to go further to pressure Trump to swiftly restore government funding and break from his demands for wall funding.
“These Republican senators refuse real action while the repercussions of a closed government set in and have economic consequences for frustrated Americans,” Majority Forward President J.B. Poersch said in a statement.