Government Shutdown Seems Imminent
The House passed a funding bill yesterday, but Democrats in the Senate don’t appear willing to take it up and provide the needed votes to prevent a government shutdown. Both sides, at the current point, believe they’re correct, and seem to be entrenched and beholden to their respective bases. At the present time, if the DACA portion of the funding bill remains the sticking point, any means to prevent the shutdown seems unlikely.
Politico reports on the current status of the shutdown:
Congress is careening toward the first shutdown in more than four years, with Republicans and Democrats at a seemingly intractable impasse over government funding and the fates of young immigrants facing deportation.
Though House Republicans voted Thursday night to keep the government open, the real drama is in the closely divided Senate, where it’s unclear what, if anything, can clear the chamber’s supermajority threshold. The Senate couldn’t even agree on holding a vote on Thursday night, adjourning after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spurned Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s request to hold a vote and, assuming it failed, restart bipartisan negotiations on immigration and government spending levels.
Senators said they expected a vote on Friday, but had little idea what would come next.
“These are hard issues, there’s a lot of disagreement. Not just on substance but how to proceed to it. And everybody’s trying to gain leverage,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)., the No. 3 GOP leader.
The uncertainty came just hours after House Republicans put weeks of internal squabbling behind them and secured votes for a spending plan to keep the government open for another four weeks. The vote was 230-197, with 11 Republicans in opposition and six Democrats crossing the aisle to back it.
The Senate voted to open debate on the bill late Thursday, but the plan’s prospects in the Senate are dicey at best, with no apparent hope of winning the required 60 votes to break a filibuster. Some GOP lawmakers said they intend to vote against it, arguing that repeated short-term funding measures harm the military. And a sizable bloc of Democrats have also come out in opposition because it does not address the fate of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants at threat of being deported.
Some Senate Republicans don’t like the House bill because they want to ensure long-term military funding. Senate Democrats don’t like the House bill because it does not address the 700,000 undocumented aliens currently awaiting some resolution on their “deferred status” under President Obama’s DACA program. The situation appears somewhat untenable unless one of the three sides decides to cave. As it stands, we have House Republicans, Senate Republicans, and Senate Democrats all wanting different things out of this temporary funding bill.
Jake Sherman from Politico gives you the succinct summary of where we are:
Here’s the reality, at this point: Government is likely to shut down. Both sides feel emboldened. Both sides think they’re in the right. Both sides think the other side will get blame.
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) January 19, 2018
The optics of the “blame game” weigh heavily here. Beyond the Congressional leaders on both sides, the President is also tossed his two cents into the mix a few hours ago:
Government Funding Bill past last night in the House of Representatives. Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate – but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 19, 2018
It looks like a shutdown is coming because, as mentioned in the prior tweet, each side thinks they will benefit politically. There is at least one Republican Senator who says he’s throwing in with the Democrats, and is even placing blame on his own party, according to The Daily Beast:
In an interview late Thursday night, an exasperated Flake—who is not running for re-election this year—pinned the blame entirely on McConnell and Trump.
“We’re not going to get any better, particularly on the [immigration] issue, by waiting three weeks,” Flake told The Daily Beast. “It just gives the White House time to agree, disagree, and go back and forth. We just need to pass a bill and put it either on the president’s desk… or just pass a Senate bill and see what the House does with it.”
He told reporters that he would vote against a GOP-led measure to advance the House-passed spending bill, which would keep the government’s lights on for four more weeks. It’s a move that essentially kicks the can even closer to a March deadline to codify legal protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally.
So what happens during a “government shutdown,” you ask? Well, CNN has a short explanation:
A shutdown, however, doesn’t mean every federally funded agency, program and service will grind to a halt. Whoever works for agencies and departments that are considered nonessential, including agencies that pay out small business loans and process passport requests, will cease to work until Congress is able to agree on a bill for the federal budget.
The employees in these departments would be placed on “furlough.” In previous shutdowns, everyone who stayed home was paid retroactively after an agreement was reached in Washington.
At the peak of the 2013 government shutdown, about 850,000 employees were furloughed per day, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
We’ll see what happens as the day unfolds. It’s entirely possible that somehow, the Senate averts the shutdown and comes to some sort of agreement. The likelihood of that happen seems to be fading by the hour.
Here’s your exit tweet on the looming shutdown:
Little known fact: if the Pandas at the National Zoo see their shadow today, a government shutdown is likely to last at least 3 weeks. Watch here: https://t.co/K1PuSXPYHb
— Todd Harrison (@ToddHarrisonDC) January 19, 2018
Filed in: Politics Tagged in: funding house senate shutdown