Trump: A Government Shutdown Could Happen

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Dec 06, 2017 4:43 PM
Trump: A Government Shutdown Could Happen

UPDATE: Politico has updated their story. It looks like the GOP has the votes for the spending bill that will be voted on Thursday; even the conservative wing of the House GOP says the party will fall in line. Yet, a lot of House Republicans are not happy with this two-week CR deal. Working over Christmas seems possible:

House GOP leaders believe they have the votes to avert a government shutdown Friday without Democratic help after spending much of Wednesday wrestling with internal Republican opposition.

Speaker Paul Ryan and his team huddled with unhappy conservatives and other opponents of their plan to keep the government open for two weeks. The House Republican Conference is broadly eager to avoid a distraction that might derail tax reform legislation. But they've been struggling to reach a truce to keep the government running.

[…]

Despite the opposition, GOP leadership sources said they believe Republicans will fall in line and vote for the "continuing resolution" on Thursday. So too did conservatives, who have voiced their own objections.

“I’ve had more fruitful conversations with leadership on this issue in the last eight hours than I’ve had in the last eight days," said Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows Wednesday evening. "That being said, there is no agreement at this point, but I fully expect that if there is CR through the 22nd that is put on the floor tomorrow, then it will pass.”

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The clock is ticking. At midnight on Friday, the government will have no operating budget; a shutdown is possible. In fact, that’s exactly what President Trump alluded to today, while blaming the Democrats for using immigration to gum up the works (via CNBC):

"It could happen," Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House, in response to a reporter's question about the Friday deadline for a spending bill to fund the government.

"The Democrats are really looking at something that could be very dangerous for our country," Trump said. "They are looking at shutting down. They want to have illegal immigrants, in many cases people that we don't want in our country, they want to have illegal immigrants pouring into our country, bringing with them crime, tremendous amounts of crime."

Congress has until midnight on Friday to approve a short-term spending package to keep the government open. Despite majorities in both chambers, Republicans will need Democratic votes to pass the bill.  

Yet, Politico notes that the issue really isn’t with the Democrats so much as the GOP infighting that’s occurred over a proposed two-week continuing resolution proposal. It’s not been received well, especially since the House GOP has passed spending bills that have gone unnoticed by the Senate. The publication added without Democrats tipping their hand, and they’re keeping them in their pockets at the moment, congressional Republicans need the House Freedom Caucus to sign off on a two-week CR resolution:

While GOP leaders and conservatives say they are both eager to avoid a "distraction" that might derail tax reform legislation, they're struggling to reach a truce to avoid a government shutdown.

Even allies of Speaker Paul Ryan, including appropriators like Rep. Tom Graves, despise the two-week strategy being pushed by the top. Graves said in an interview that short-term funding bills are a tactic of the minority and argued that Republicans are “squandering” their power of the purse.

Graves also noted that the House passed it's GOP spending bills eight weeks ago — and the Senate has totally ignored them.

“The Senate needs two more weeks? I’m asking: what have you done the last eight?” said the Georgia Republican, who is close with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). "I want to see Senate action, and I think they owe it to the House to show us those next steps."

[…]

Meanwhile, conservatives are warring with GOP leaders as well. House Freedom Caucus leaders emerged from a closed-door meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan Wednesday morning — their second in two days — saying no deal has been reached. Conservatives are asking for a commitment leadership does not believe it can give them: a promise to "hold the line" and refuse Senate Democrats' demands for increased spending on non-defense programs.

GOP leaders do not believe that's realistic since the Senate needs eight Senate Democrats to pass any long-term funding deal. And those on the left have demanded "parity"— namely, equivalent increases for defense and non-defense priories in other agencies — in order to win their votes.

[…]

If the conservative faction ultimately backs the package, it would likely seal the GOP’s hopes of avoiding the need for a last-minute deal with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) or Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who could demand additional concessions to keep the government open. Many Democrats are vowing to vote against government funding legislation if it doesn't also provide deportation relief for Dreamers, the undocumented immigrants who came to the country as minors.

Indeed, without the Freedom Caucus votes, Ryan warned that he would need to bring Democrats into the talks to keep the government funded past Friday.

The House is set to vote on the bill Thursday.

We’ll see what happens. Voters don’t want a shutdown, but we’re coming perilously close to one.