Government Shutdown Looms Over Border Wall Funding
There are fears of a government shutdown in days if Democrats in Congress and the President cannot agree on some sort of deal over the President’s demand for the inclusion of border wall funding in the upcoming spending bill. As of today, the President says he’s confident they can avert the shutdown, but the issue still looms until the end of the week.
The Washington Post reports:
The White House sought Monday to calm a jittery Washington ahead of a showdown with Congress over spending, and President Trump softened his demand that a deal to keep the federal government open include money to begin construction on his long-promised border wall.
Despite one-party control at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, the brinkmanship that came to define spending battles in the Obama years has tumbled into the Trump era, as have the factional divisions over strategy and priorities that have gripped the GOP for a decade.
But with a Friday deadline looming to pass a new spending bill, the Trump administration projected confidence that a shutdown would be avoided. In the face of fierce Democratic opposition to funding the wall’s construction, White House officials signaled Monday that the president may be open to an agreement that includes money for border security if not specifically for a wall, with an emphasis on technology and border agents rather than a structure.
Trump showed even more flexibility Monday afternoon, telling conservative journalists in a private meeting that he was open to delaying funding for wall construction until September, a White House official confirmed.
Interesting to note here is how quickly Trump – not the Democrats – seemed to back down in the face of mounting pressure over a government shutdown in the first 100 days of his presidency. Republicans rarely win these fights, even in a case such as this where they control all branches of government. Just ask Ted Cruz how many friends he earned back in 2013 from causing a shutdown over ObamaCare funding.
USA Today looks at the fallout of shutdown were to occur:
Every shutdown is different because federal agencies have quite a bit of leeway in deciding how to carry it out. But, based on previous shutdowns, here’s what you can expect:
1. Will my mail stop coming?
No. The U.S. Postal Service is an independent agency that does not receive tax dollars to operate. It is funded through the sale of stamps and other products and services.
2. Will I still get my Social Security benefits?
Yes. Social Security is a mandatory program that will continue even if Congress fails to pass a spending bill.
3. What about that tax refund I’m counting on?
It could be delayed. However, the IRS will continue collecting taxes, so a shutdown won’t get you off the hook for paying what you owe.
4. Will I still get food stamps?
Yes. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a mandatory entitlement program that is not dependent on annual spending bills.
5. Will my child still get a free lunch at school?
Yes, as long as the shutdown doesn’t last too long. In the past, federal officials have estimated that most school districts had enough money to continue providing free lunches to eligible students for about a month.
6. What about my summer vacation? Will I still be able to get a passport?
Maybe, but don’t count on it. The State Department’s passport service is funded partly by fees, which means it is not completely dependent on Congress for money and may be able to continue to issue passports for at least a short time. But if you need a new passport, act fast.
7. Will I still be able to visit a national park or monument?
No. During past shutdowns, the National Park Service has had to close its parks and historic sites, which range from the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona to the Statue of Liberty National Monument in New York Harbor.
8. Will the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., be closed?
Yes. These popular, admission-free museums are paid for by federal tax dollars and would be closed during a shutdown. They include the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History, the new National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Zoo, which is famous for its pandas.
9. Will a shutdown affect air travel?
Not dramatically. Airports would remain open and air traffic controllers and Transportation Safety Administration security officials would remain on the job. However, there could be some delays as “non-essential” employees are furloughed.
10. What about Amtrak?
You should still be able to travel by rail. Although Amtrak depends on federal subsidies, it gets much of its revenue from ticket sales and has managed to stay open during past shutdowns.
11. Will members of Congress close their offices?
It depends. In the past, individual members of Congress have reacted differently, with some closing their district offices and others leaving them open. During previous shutdowns, lawmakers were advised that they did not have to furlough aides that they needed to write laws, help them vote, or communicate with their constituents. That gives members of Congress quite a bit of leeway.
12. Will federal courts be closed?
Not immediately, but they could be closed if a shutdown lasts more than 10 days, according to past guidance.
It looks doubtful that the shutdown will happen because Trump seems to have decided he’s not going to let it happen. Perhaps in the next few days a compromise can be reached so that Democrats can say they’re not supporting a “border wall,” something their base is vehemently against, and Trump can say he’s getting more funding for border security, something his base is vehemently in favor of.