The U.S. government is poised to shut down on Day 100 of Donald Trump’s presidency, unless Congress can pass a new spending bill or a continuing resolution before the current one expires on April 28.
Since Congress is currently on a two-week recess, there will be a sense of urgency to get a new bill passed once they reconvene on April 25. Leaders in both chambers would have four days to craft a new proposal that each side can agree on and get it on the president’s desk for Trump to sign.
With the Gorsuch confirmation over in the Senate and a last-minute effort to revive healthcare legislation off the table for now in the House, congressional leaders should be able to focus on avoiding a repeat of the partial government shutdown that occurred in 2013.
In the weeks leading up to the recess, spending panels in both chambers of Congress tried to negotiate a new bill that would keep the government from shutting down. However, they were unable to work out an agreement before Congress dismissed for the Easter break.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky believes a deal to avoid a shutdown will be struck before the deadline. Appearing on Fox News Sunday last week, McConnell told host Chris Wallace that he is “very confident” that there would be no government shutdown.
“The two appropriations committees are working on the bills on a bipartisan basis. We’ll be talking to Senate Democrats. They will be relevant to this process. It will require 60 votes. I’m confident Senate Democrats are not going to want to shut down the government. They used to use that against us all the time. And I think it worked pretty effectively for them. And I can’t imagine they would want to acquire the government shutdown label.”
Democratic leaders, though, said it would be the Republicans who would be responsible for a government shutdown.
Bloomberg reported that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with several Democratic leaders, had sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee warning Republicans that Democrats would not hesitate to block a bill that would fund a proposed wall along the Mexican border or defund Planned Parenthood.
“If Republicans insist on inserting poison pill riders such as defunding Planned Parenthood, building a border wall, or starting a deportation force, they will be shutting down the government and delivering a severe blow to our economy.”
With a 60-vote majority required to pass a spending bill in the Senate, it’s essential for McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to try and work with the Democrats to avoid a government shutdown.
A new poll from POLITICO/Morning Consult shows that 65 percent of voters believe Congress should “take all necessary steps to avoid a government shutdown.”
The poll revealed that almost two-thirds of voters don’t feel that a fight over funding the proposed border wall is worth shutting down the government.
POLITICO spoke with Kyle Dropp of Morning Consult, who said that a person’s position on a certain policy could affect their thoughts about a government shutdown.
“In theory, a sizable majority of voters dislike the idea of Congress causing a government shutdown. However, when faced with a real-world tradeoff of losing a favorable policy outcome, support for a temporary shutdown rises sharply.”
With members of Congress working out of their home districts, some even conducting town halls during the two-week recess, citizens are being urged to voice their displeasure at proposed domestic spending cuts.
Many Americans have been speaking out against the cuts since Trump released his proposed budget last month, but this past week’s military campaign against Syria seemed to ramp up the frustration of his most ardent detractors.
With the mid-term elections already in sight, Republicans, who have only a slim majority in the Senate, will be forced to walk a tightrope as they balance working with their Democratic counterparts and attempting to remain faithful to the constituents who placed them in office. For the Democrats, the 60-vote majority to pass a spending bill and avoid a government shutdown gives them leverage to compel the Republicans to work with them.
As one party tries to rebuild following November’s disappointing loss and the other party works to heal major fractures, both in Congress and inside the White House, any missteps over the next few weeks could lead to disaster in 2018.
In October 2013, the U.S. government shut down after Congress failed to pass a new spending bill or a continuing resolution, which would have provided more time to work out a new bill. At the time, then-President Barack Obama and the Republican-led House of Representatives were in a tug of war over the Affordable Care Act. While the Republicans wanted to defund the law that would become known as ObamaCare, Obama promised to veto any legislation that would affect the healthcare legislation.
After the 16-day shutdown ended, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found that the majority of Americans blamed the Republican Party, with the Tea party movement taking the brunt of the blame.
With the 2018 elections shaping up to be a contentious fight, both sides have to weigh the consequences of a government shutdown.
Do you agree that Congress should avoid a government shutdown? Is there an issue you believe is worth shutting down the government? What concessions should each side make to avoid a government shutdown?
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]