There's still a chance the federal government will shutdown

  • 11 September 2018
  • NormanL

There's still a chance the federal government could shut down on Oct. 1 of lawmakers and the White House can't agree on a new budget. Congressional leaders are working to make sure the fed's doors stay open. Meanwhile, the president still thinks a shutdown might be a good political move:

Lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee said they expected the House to vote this week on the trio of bills, known as a “minibus,” that would include funding for the departments of Energy and Veterans Affairs and the legislative branch of government.

The Senate may also vote on the bill this week, though that would require an agreement among lawmakers to speed up the chamber’s time-consuming procedures.

Much of the government has yet to be funded, and Congress has dwindling days and an unpredictable president to contend with before current funding expires at 12:01 a.m. Oct 1. Mr. Trump has raised the prospect of shutting the government if he can’t secure more funding for the wall along the border with Mexico, while GOP leaders have worked to persuade him to hold off until after November’s midterm elections.

“Show me the last time there’s been a government shutdown that Republicans haven’t been blamed for. I have never seen it work,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R., Idaho), an appropriations-committee member. “I have never seen it give you an advantage.”

Mr. Trump believes differently, telling GOP leaders in a meeting at the White House last week that a shutdown would motivate his supporters to vote in November. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) both said after the meeting they were confident that Mr. Trump was on board with their plan to pass packages of spending bills this month to fund most of the government.

While most GOP lawmakers and aides believe Mr. Trump will be willing to avoid a showdown right before the midterm elections, the president has kept them guessing. He has at times agreed to defer the fight while as recently as Friday indicating that he sees political advantages in a shutdown.

Government shutdowns are always political events having next to nothing to do with the smooth operation of government. Democrats and the press are masters at making any shutdown -- even those they caused -- the GOP's fault. That's not where Republican incumbents want to find themselves heading into the final weeks of what will be a tough mid-term election.

We would expect cooler heads to prevail, and some sort of stop-gap measure adopted. As much as this fuels bad budget decisions, and only ensures a bigger budget fight, the politics don't favor the GOP leading the charge for a shutdown. Maybe there will be a deal. Maybe not. But it's it's an issue worth watching closely.